Howard Schultz, the beloved entrepreneur who built Starbucks into a global coffee powerhouse, is stepping down as chairman of his bean empire.
Schultz, widely known for his outspoken political and social views, stepped down as CEO in 2016, and now, as he told Starbucks employees yesterday, he’s “thinking about a range of options for [him]self, from philanthropy to public service.”
Rumors are swirling about a potential entry to politics…
Schultz has been trying not to stoke rumors of an upcoming presidential campaign… while making some pretty presidential statements.
“I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines,” he told The New York Times. “For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country.”
*Cue speculative headlines*
Whether or not he runs for office, Schultz’s past actions have had a distinctly political flavor — Starbucks’ 2015 racial dialogue campaign, 2017 program to hire 10k refugees, and recent racial bias training have conditioned consumers to see Schultz’s business as inherently political.
’Twas a good run for coffee’s commander in chief
During his tenure, Schultz expanded the company’s footprint from a handful of Seattle cafes into 28k locations in 77 countries — driving the company share price up 21k% from its 1992 IPO price.
After such a long time with the company, Schultz admitted to reporters that “taking [his] green apron off is hard.”
But Bill Gates, whose dad helped Schultz buy Starbucks in 1987, believes in his old buddy, saying “it’s exciting to consider what he might accomplish philanthropically.”