William McDonough has effortlessly moved from the world of “enviro-geek design” to the “soft spotlight of pop culture” and is well-known for his cradle-to-cradle manifesto. But there is an alternative narrative about McDonough that most people haven’t heard about, Fast Company reports.
McDonough struggled to grow his cradle-to-cradle consulting company MBDC, because he couldn’t tolerate the idea of handing over intellectual property. The desire to own patents also strained his relationship with Interface (McDonough was hired to become part of Interface’s Eco Dream Team that it formed in 1995).
John Picard, an environmental consultant on the team, told Fast Company that the partnership failed after McDonough presented a business plan saying he owned the rights, and asked for an “obscene amount of money.” Picard says “the issue is that some of the things he thinks he originated no one owns. These are things that need to be blown up, not sequestered down with a patent.”
Nike originally wanted to collaborate with McDonough to design a protocol for shoe material. But the deal was terminated when McDonough wanted to charge a hefty fee for every supplier that Nike rolled the protocol out to. “We didn’t own it after we paid all this money, which made no sense,” a person on the Nike team told Fast Company.
McDonough told Fast Company that he doesn’t recall either of the two incidents above.