Vancouver, in its own low-key Canadian way, is a company town. In the summer, Lululemon puts on waterfront yoga classes overlooking the North Shore. And, as we quickly discovered, visitors shouldn't be surprised to find a Lululemon yoga mat as an amenity in their hotel rooms. Chip Wilson, Lululemon's founder, has also donated big money to Vancouver. In 2010, he coughed up $1.5 million to keep the 14 pieces comprising Chinese sculptor Yue Minjun's "A-maze-ing Laughter" on public display -- and last winter, Wilson spent $8 million to build the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (Lululemon added an additional $4 million of its own).
High-profile missteps (see-through yoga pants!) at the quirky apparel maker (groovy New Age training, anyone?) and dysfunction in the corner office threaten to derail an amazing run.