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Howard Schultz    

Executive Chairman & Former CEO of Starbucks; Former Owner of the Seattle SuperSonics

Howard Schultz is an American businessman. He was formerly the CEO of Starbucks, now executive chairman, and a former owner of the Seattle SuperSonics. He was a member of the Board of Directors at Square, Inc. In 1998, Schultz co-founded Maveron, an investment group, with Dan Levitan. In 2016, Forbes magazine ranked Schultz as the 595th richest person in the United States, with a net worth of $2.9 Billion as of September 2016.

On December 1, 2016, Schultz announced his resignation as CEO of Starbucks, effective April 2017. He will become executive chairman, with Kevin Johnson to become CEO.

After graduating, Schultz worked as a salesman for Xerox Corporation and was quickly promoted to a full sales representative. In 1979 he became a general manager for Swedish drip coffee maker manufacturer, Hammarplast, where he became responsible for their U.S. operations with a staff of twenty. In 1981, Schultz visited a client of Hammarplast, a fledgling coffee-bean shop called Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, curious as to why it ordered so many plastic cone filters. He was impressed with the company's knowledge of coffee and kept in contact over the next year, expressing interest in working with them. A year later, he joined Starbucks as the Director of Marketing. On a buying trip to Milan, Italy, for Starbucks, Schultz noted that coffee bars existed on practically every street. He learned that they not only served excellent espresso, they also served as meeting places or public squares; the 200,000 cafés in the country were an important element of Italian culture and society.

On his return, he tried to persuade the owners (including Jerry Baldwin) to offer traditional espresso beverages in addition to the whole bean coffee, leaf teas and spices they had long offered. After a successful pilot of the cafe concept, the owners refused to roll it out company-wide, saying they did not want to get into the restaurant business. Frustrated, Schultz decided to leave Starbucks in 1985. He needed $400,000 to open the first store and start the business. He simply did not have the money and his wife was pregnant with their first baby. Jerry Baldwin and Gordon Bowker offered to help. Schultz also received $100,000 from a doctor who was impressed by Schultz's energy to "take a gamble". By 1986, he raised all the money he needed to open the first store, "Il Giornale", named after the Milanese newspaper of the same name. The store offered ice cream in addition to coffee, had little seating, and played opera music in the background to portray an Italian experience. Two years later, the original Starbucks management decided to focus on Peet's Coffee & Tea and sold its Starbucks retail unit to Schultz and Il Giornale for US$3.8 million.

Schultz renamed Il Giornale with the Starbucks name, and aggressively expanded its reach across the United States. Schultz's keen insight in real estate and his hard-line focus on growth drove him to expand the company rapidly. Schultz did not believe in franchising, and made a point of having Starbucks retain ownership of every domestic outlet. On 26 June 1992, Starbucks had its initial public offering and trading of its common stock under the stock ticker NASDAQ-NMS: SBUX. The offering was done by Alex, Brown & Sons Inc. and Wertheim Schroder & Co. Inc.

Schultz wrote the book Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time with Dori Jones Yang in 1997. His second book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul, co-written with Joanne Gordon, was published in 2011.

On January 8, 2008 Schultz returned as CEO of Starbucks after an eight-year hiatus. At this time, Schultz was earning a total compensation of $9,740,471, which included a base salary of $1,190,000, and options granted of $7,786,105. Schultz is a significant stakeholder in Jamba Juice.

On the first of November 2013, it was announced that Schultz had stepped down from the board of Square, to be replaced by former Goldman Sachs executive David Viniar.

Speech Topics

Onward: How Crisis & Conviction Transformed Starbucks

When Howard Schultz reclaimed the role of Starbucks' CEO in 2008, his morning cup of coffee had gotten pretty complicated. He had 13,000 of his stores to choose from, many unwittingly stealing business from each other. And he knew his customers were increasingly getting their own morning cup of Joe from McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks had lost much of its sheen. Schultz had watched largely from the sidelines as his company's core values began to deteriorate. Taking the reins, he once again provided the values-based leadership and initiatives that the company needed in order to transform its business.

He also dedicated significant focus to the values and character of Starbucks, which were deeply ingrained in community and volunteerism. When Starbucks Coffee Company posted its third quarter fiscal gains in July 2009, President Barack Obama himself called Schultz to offer his congratulations. Though Schultz had created phenomenal success during Starbucks’ inception and ultimate rise, this time around, he transformed himself into a leader for today's times. In his bestselling book, Onward Schultz provides the blueprint for how to sustain growth and nurture employees during one of the most difficult economic periods in American history.


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