You likely won’t see any difference in latte drinking experience in the near future, but there are big changes coming to the World’s biggest coffee chain. Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ primary guiding force and current CEO, to step away from his role with the company.
In some ways, Howard Schultz is Starbucks. Though he didn’t create the brand, it wasn’t until the Brooklyn-native took over the coffee brand in the late ‘80s that the coffee brand became the international juggernaut it is today. However, yesterday, Schultz announced that he would be handing over the reins as Starbucks CEO to current company president and chief operating officer Kevin Johnson as of April 3, 2017.
Though Schultz may be abandoning his CEO post – a move he made before when he left the position in 2000 before returning in 2008 – he plans to continue having an active role in the company. According to a Starbucks press release, “[Schultz] will be appointed executive chairman and will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries around the world, expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format and the company’s social impact initiatives.” In theory, focusing on guiding a new line of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries would seem to fittingly parallel Schultz original vision for the company of bringing the idea of the coffee shop as a community meeting spot to every street corner.
Meanwhile, as Forbes points out, new appointee Kevin Johnson may be better positioned for the future of the business. Before joining Starbucks, Johnson worked in the technology sector, most prominently for Microsoft. Since joining the ‘Bucks, he was behind the brand’s mobile payment system and could be poised to keep the company at the technological forefront.
But other speculation surrounds Schultz decision as well. As CEO, Schultz was very open about his feelings on things like race relations and political endorsements. Part of his new role will allow him to focus more on “social impact initiatives” within the company, but speculation is already running rampant that he may have political aspirations outside of the company as well.