It’s a destination for great coffee, tasty snacks, and a relaxing environment – one fitting for everything from personal to professional meetings. Starbucks has become a staple of America’s coffee industry and has also emerged as one of the most popular Wi-Fi-café settings in the entire world.
But all good things must come to an end. No, the chain isn’t closing, but one of the architects of its modern design is stepping aside. Executive chairman Howard Schultz sent out a memo on Monday, June 4, letting all employees know his time with the company was coming to a close.
And what a time it has been – under Schultz’s watch, the company has expanded to a massive chain from its humble beginnings as a single coffee shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Now with thousands of locations around the globe, the company provides jobs, a cozy setting, and a menu full of delicious options.
Schultz served as chairman for over a decade beginning in 1987. He also did a lot of work for the company’s global strategy by quadrupling the number of locations outside the United States. He believed that while the expansion went on, the quality of the brand and its coffee slipped. He returned to the helm of leadership in 2008 to try and reverse that trend.
As for what Schultz will do next, he hasn’t stated explicitly. However, he has said he will be considering multiple options, writing in a memo: “I’ll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I’m a long way from knowing what the future holds.”
Throughout his various absences and breaks from the company’s position of leadership, he’s remained on their board and currently has about $2.17 billion in company stock.
While the company is doing well financially and still doesn’t have a ton of competitors threatening its position among coffee shops, it did experience a PR disaster recently when the police were called on two men who were sitting in the establishment but hadn’t ordered yet. These locations are a common site for studying, job interviews, and all types of small-scale professional meetings. Given the two men were black, many believed their treatment was motivated by racial stereotypes.
The men got a settlement for the embarrassing encounter, but Starbucks also promised to close stores so they could conduct “racial bias training” for workers. The ugly situation made many question whether Starbucks was the type of place where everyone could feel welcomed or whether there were beliefs in play that made some less welcomed than others.
There’s no confirmation whether this incident is related to Schultz’s decision to step aside. It could simply be that he’s moving on – there isn’t much left for him to do in the way of building up the chain, and he has plenty of prospective opportunities ahead of him.
But with a managerial shift taking place and a PR nightmare cooling off at the same time, it’s a rough spot to be in for anyone who works for Starbucks.