business news in context, analysis with attitude

Howard Schultz, the three-time CEO of Starbucks and the man who turned a small Seattle business into a global phenomenon, said yesterday that he is stepping down as a member of the company's board.

Schultz will retain the title of chairman emeritus.

“I look forward to supporting this next generation of leaders to steward Starbucks into the future as a customer, supporter and advocate in my role as chairman emeritus,” Schultz said in a statement.

CNBC writes that Schultz's "third stint as Starbucks’ chief executive ended in March, as Laxman Narasimhan stepped into the role. Schultz spent 11 months back in the top job. During that time, he crafted a strategy to modernize the company’s cafes, improve relations with its baristas and fuel further sales growth. He also spearheaded the launch of Starbucks Oleato, a line of olive oil-infused beverages.

"But some of Schultz’s actions created new enemies. He took a more aggressive approach against baristas unionizing than Kevin Johnson, who took over as CEO after Schultz’s second stint. Starbucks Workers United and allies such as Sen. Bernie Sanders made billionaire Schultz the face of Starbucks’ anti-union stance. It culminated in Schultz being grilled in front of a Senate committee over the company’s alleged union busting shortly after he stepped down as chief executive."

The announcement comes as Schultz has said he is pondering his next business venture, which he has said will probably involve his skills as a merchant and food.

It also said that he "will now turn his attention with his wife Sheri to focus on a range of philanthropic and entrepreneurial investments to create greater opportunity, accessible to all. They are co-founders of the Schultz Family Foundation and emes project LLC, two organizations working in partnership with employers, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and governments to seed innovations and scale solutions that are aimed at enabling everyone to access the full promise of America."

KC's View:

This probably throws cold water on my ongoing prediction that Schultz probably will end up coming back a fourth time as CEO.  But I still don't think it is out of the question, if unlikely at this point.

One interesting note - Schultz's seat on the board will now be occupied by  Wei Zhang, who has served as a senior advisor to Alibaba and president of Alibaba Pictures Group;  she also currently serves on the board for Ralph Lauren Corporation. She is also a past board member of Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission, Amblin Partners and the Jack Ma Foundation, among others.