Howard Schultz will be stepping down as executive chairman of Starbucks. He sent a memo to his employees that June 26 will be his last day. Schultz has been part of the organization since it was a little shop in Seattle’s Pike Place and was instrumental in what it has grown into today.
Schultz started with Starbucks in 1982 as director of operations and marketing. He became the Starbucks chief executive officer in 2000 when he stepped down to grow the company globally. From 2000 to 2008 Starbucks had their biggest boom in store growth, expanding from 3,500 locations into 16,000.
Even though the brand was growing strong, Schultz believed the coffee and overall quality had deteriorated. He returned to the head position in 2008 to bring it back to prominence, eventually growing Starbucks to 28,000 locations across the world.
“I set out to build a company that my father, a blue-collar worker and World War II veteran, never had a chance to work for,” Schultz wrote in a letter to Starbucks partners. “Together we’ve done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility.”
The main question now is, why would Schultz step down? Many are speculating that Schultz has political aspirations, but that is unclear. According to Schultz,
“I’ll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I’m a long way from knowing what the future holds.”
Even though it is speculation at this point, his political run would not be a surprise. He has been in Obama’s corner and supported Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency. He also has not held back when it comes to President Donald Trump, telling the New York Times that he has been “deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world.”
Schultz wanted to depart last month, but that was stalled when cops were called on two black men who were in one of the branches because they didn’t order anything. In response, Schultz closed all stores for four hours to give way for racial bias training. This program was spearheaded by Schultz himself.
Before Donald Trump’s successful run, this may not have even entered Schultz’s mind, but that has all changed now. Floods of businessmen are now rumored to want to throw their hat in the ring. Bob Iger (Disney), Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan Chase), Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks), and many more have shown interest.
Schultz would likely run on the Democratic side of the ballot if his rumored foray into politics materializes. His and Starbucks’ stances on gay rights, race relations, veterans’ rights, gun violence, and student debt are all liberal viewpoints.