Howard Schultz to Step Down as Starbucks Executive Chairman

Executive who built coffee chain into global franchise will focus on other areas at company.

Howard Schultz
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had to grind his way to the top. (Stephen Brashear/ Getty)

Change is brewing at Starbucks.

Executive chairman Howard Schultz—the person most responsible for building the coffee chain from a local Seattle establishment to the ubiquitous, worldwide franchise—is stepping down from his post, the company announced Monday.

Instead, Schultz will focus on social-impact initiatives and other initiatives for the company, according to The Wall Street Journal. But some observers suspect Schultz’s departure may also be in preparation for a career in politics.

He leaves behind an unmatched legacy since joining the original Starbucks company as a marketing director in 1982 before leaving in a dispute several years later. But after Schultz bought the Starbucks coffee business from the original owners, he renamed his own shop Starbucks and the rest is history. Starbucks now boasts more than 28,000 stores around the globe.

“We did it together, by balancing profitability and social conscience,” Schultz said in a statement to employees announcing the move.

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