Yesterday, the beloved chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, announced his retirement and stepped down from his position of executive chairman.
Starbucks is much more than just a coffee chain. It is 28.000 stores in 77 countries and over 7.000 shops in the United States only. Each year, Starbucks opens around 2.000 additional points of sale worldwide. More than a company, it is an institution that has taken the world by storm since its opening, in 1971.
Schultz managed to create an empire by implementing a way of drinking coffee that did not exist before. Bloomberg referred to him as “the man who globalized coffee.”
It all began when he had his first Starbucks cup of coffee in the first original Starbucks shop in Seattle. Convinced that he was in the presence of a company that had great potential, he decided to work for them. In 1982, Schultz was hired as Director of retail operations and marketing. The first Starbucks store is still open today in Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. Schultz claims that the company has kept the original store the way it was in 1971.
After a trip to Milan in 1983, Schultz decided to implement what he had experienced in Italy to Starbucks. The art of coffee was something that wasn’t known by the general public and his goal was to change that. He wanted to educate the market and the customer about what coffee should taste like.
He bought Starbucks in August 1987 for $3.9M and thus began the global phenomenon that we know today. “Starbucks has become this community destination between home and work,” Schultz said in an interview with CNN in 2016.
A new political life ?
Over the years, Schultz has made Starbucks an active part of the nation’s issue by being vocal on subjects such as gun violence, veteran rights and gay rights.
On Monday, Schultz visited the original Starbucks shop in Seattle and inscribed the wall with a few of his words: “This is where it all began. My dream to build a company that fosters respect and dignity and create a place where we can all come together over a cup of coffee. Onward with love.”
At age 64, Schultz will be succeeded by Myron E. “Mike” Ullman, who will assume the position of executive chairman of Starbucks. Schulz had already handed over the position of chief executive to Kevin Johnson, a close friend and a longtime member of the company’s board. At the end of the month, Schultz will have the honorary title of chairman emeritus.
Speculations were made about his potential candidature to the presidential election of 2020 for the Democratic Party. A supporter of Hillary Clinton and friend of Barack Obama, Schultz has never hid away from being vocal about his political views. When asked about his interest to stand as a candidate, he told The New York Times that he wasn’t ready to make any decision just yet.