Howard Schultz steps down at Starbucks, may consider run for president

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz 

Starbucks announced Monday that Howard Schultz will step down later this month as executive chairman, the end of a 36-year run at the company. In an interview with The New York Times, he acknowledged that he may consider a bid for the White House.

“I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines,” he said. “For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world.”

Schultz later told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in a statement: “I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service, but I’m a long way from making any decisions about the future.”

Schultz, 64, one of the most politically outspoken corporate leaders in America, has been rumored before as a potential Democratic candidate.

He endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. “On the other side,” he told Harlow that September, “I think we’ve seen such vitriolic display of bigotry and hate and divisiveness, and that is not the leadership we need for the future of the country.”

Schultz has overseen enormous growth in three and a half decades at Starbucks. It has expanded from 11 stores in the early 1980s to more than 28,000 stores in 77 countries today, and a market value of $78 billion.

Schultz started in 1982 and served as chief executive from 1987 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017. He is leaving at a tumultuous moment in Starbucks’ history.

The company drew protests in April after two black men were arrested while they were waiting inside a Philadelphia store. Starbucks closed 8,000 stores for an afternoon last week to teach employees about racial bias.

“We realize that four hours of training is not going to solve racial inequity in America,” Schultz told Harlow last week. But he said, “We need to have the conversation. We need to start.”