Howard Schultz stepping down at Starbucks

Last Updated Jun 4, 2018 5:10 PM EDT

Howard Schultz, who helped build Starbucks into a global food industry powerhouse, is stepping down as executive chairman of the coffee chain.

“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 employees. “Together we’ve done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility.”

Schultz, 64, became director of operations and marketing at Starbucks in 1982. He later bought the company in 1987 and became CEO, with Starbucks going public five years later.

Schultz relinquished his post as chief executive in 2017, with former Starbucks president and chief operating officer officer Kevin Johnson taking over the role.

Starbucks said Myron E. “Mike” Ullman will take over as chairman of the board, and Mellody Hobson will become vice chair (Disclosure: Mellody Hobson is a regular contributor to CBS News).

In a news release on Monday, the company noted that Starbucks’ stock price has seen a 21,000 percent gain since its initial public offering in 1992. That means a $1,000 stake in the IPO would be worth around $21 million today.

Starbucks shares fell 1.4 percent after the close of trading, when the company announced Schultz’s exit as chairman. 

Over the course of his career at Starbucks, the company grew from a handful of stores to an international behemoth with 28,000 locations around the world. Starbucks, which styled itself as a “third place” for Americans to congregate along with work and home, also because synonymous with an urban style that bred imitators and changed the food business.

Starbucks captured nationwide attention last week when it closed 8,000 locations across the country for a day to train 175,000 employees about racial bias in one of the largest corporate responses to an incident involving racial profiling. It was a step Schultz called “just a beginning.” 

Schultz has long been rumored to be considering a career in politics. He didn’t discourage that notion on Monday, telling the New York Times, “For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world.”

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