Howard Schultz resigns as Starbucks chairman, may run in 2020

Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz announced that he would step down after 36 years at the company.

The company has been in the headlines in recent months, including an incident last April where two black men were denied use of a Starbucks restroom because they hadn't purchased anything.  After being attacked on social media, Starbucks changed its policy and now allows anyone – even non-paying visitors – to use the restroom.  The company held a mandatory racial sensitivity seminar at the end of May for all employees.

Schultz hinted in an interview that he may run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

CNBC:

In an interview with The New York Times, he acknowledged that he may consider a bid for the White House.

"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines," he said. "For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country – the growing division at home and our standing in the world."

Schultz later told CNN's Poppy Harlow in a statement: "I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service, but I'm a long way from making any decisions about the future."

Schultz, 64, one of the most politically outspoken corporate leaders in America, has been rumored before as a potential Democratic candidate.

He endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.  "On the other side," he told Harlow that September, "I think we've seen such vitriolic display of bigotry and hate and divisiveness, and that is not the leadership we need for the future of the country."

It's tempting to try to connect Schultz's resignation with the recent race controversy, but Starbucks's board – where one would expect pressure would come from – has supported its chairman over the years in his efforts to enact a progressive social agenda at the company.

Schultz has spoken frequently about race, and Starbucks has taken progressive stances on social issues – including gay marriage [sic], immigration and Trump's travel ban.  Last year, the company said it plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years.

Starbucks has also been a leader in workers' benefits under Schultz.  Since 1988, Starbucks has offered health care to all full-time and part-time employees.  In March, the company said it reached gender and race pay equity for all US employees.

Starbucks's stock performance has not been bad over the last year, performing close to the market average.  But other factors may be at play that might have worked against Schultz.  It could be that his talk of running in 2020 is a face-saving device to cover for a pending management shakeup. 

Whatever the reason for his resignation, he can't be serious about running for president.  While Trump, a businessman, was successful in 2016, he ran as a fairly orthodox Republican.  There was little that was "radical" about him.

Schultz is a radical, even for Democrats.  There is little that is "orthodox" about him.  And in what promises to be a very crowded Democratic field, it's difficult to see him getting much traction in the primaries.  Of course, similar things were said about Trump, but the current president had name recognition that was off the charts and had been a national figure for decades.  Schultz is a virtual unknown among most Democrats, and while he is almost as rich as Trump, he would have a hard time attracting much interest when up to 20 other Democrats could be running.

Don't expect Starbucks to change its politically correct approach to business, although it may opt to have a lower profile than under Schultz.

Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz announced that he would step down after 36 years at the company.

The company has been in the headlines in recent months, including an incident last April where two black men were denied use of a Starbucks restroom because they hadn't purchased anything.  After being attacked on social media, Starbucks changed its policy and now allows anyone – even non-paying visitors – to use the restroom.  The company held a mandatory racial sensitivity seminar at the end of May for all employees.

Schultz hinted in an interview that he may run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

CNBC:

In an interview with The New York Times, he acknowledged that he may consider a bid for the White House.

"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines," he said. "For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country – the growing division at home and our standing in the world."

Schultz later told CNN's Poppy Harlow in a statement: "I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service, but I'm a long way from making any decisions about the future."

Schultz, 64, one of the most politically outspoken corporate leaders in America, has been rumored before as a potential Democratic candidate.

He endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.  "On the other side," he told Harlow that September, "I think we've seen such vitriolic display of bigotry and hate and divisiveness, and that is not the leadership we need for the future of the country."

It's tempting to try to connect Schultz's resignation with the recent race controversy, but Starbucks's board – where one would expect pressure would come from – has supported its chairman over the years in his efforts to enact a progressive social agenda at the company.

Schultz has spoken frequently about race, and Starbucks has taken progressive stances on social issues – including gay marriage [sic], immigration and Trump's travel ban.  Last year, the company said it plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years.

Starbucks has also been a leader in workers' benefits under Schultz.  Since 1988, Starbucks has offered health care to all full-time and part-time employees.  In March, the company said it reached gender and race pay equity for all US employees.

Starbucks's stock performance has not been bad over the last year, performing close to the market average.  But other factors may be at play that might have worked against Schultz.  It could be that his talk of running in 2020 is a face-saving device to cover for a pending management shakeup. 

Whatever the reason for his resignation, he can't be serious about running for president.  While Trump, a businessman, was successful in 2016, he ran as a fairly orthodox Republican.  There was little that was "radical" about him.

Schultz is a radical, even for Democrats.  There is little that is "orthodox" about him.  And in what promises to be a very crowded Democratic field, it's difficult to see him getting much traction in the primaries.  Of course, similar things were said about Trump, but the current president had name recognition that was off the charts and had been a national figure for decades.  Schultz is a virtual unknown among most Democrats, and while he is almost as rich as Trump, he would have a hard time attracting much interest when up to 20 other Democrats could be running.

Don't expect Starbucks to change its politically correct approach to business, although it may opt to have a lower profile than under Schultz.