Photo/Starbucks website

Starbucks announced on September 13 that its founder and former CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down from the company's board of directors. Starbucks also announced that it is appointing Schultz to the honorary position of chairman emeritus.

This means that Schultz will no longer be involved in Starbucks' day-to-day operations. "As chairman emeritus, I look forward to supporting the next generation of leaders as they lead Starbucks into the future as consumers, supporters, and advocates," Schultz said.

Schultz has played a crucial role in the growth of the coffee empire.

Born in a poor neighborhood in New York City in 1954, Schultz and his family of five lived in a government-subsidized apartment. His father's accidental death inspired him to become a business leader and provide health insurance benefits to ordinary employees. He wrote in his autobiography, "My father's lifelong tragedy motivated me as a young man to pursue my dreams."

In 1982, Schultz joined Starbucks at the age of 29. At the time, the name represented a small coffee bean wholesale business in Seattle. On a business trip to Milan, Schultz realized that people could have a very personal connection with coffee. In 1985, Schultz left Starbucks to found his own coffee company, II Giornale (Italian for "daily"), to replicate Italian coffee culture in the United States. Il Giornale was successful, opening six stores, but it lacked the additional funding and resources to scale up. In 1987, Starbucks, which then had only six stores, was experiencing financial problems. With the help of Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates Sr., Schultz acquired Starbucks for $3.8 million.

Subsequently, Schultz quickly replicated Starbucks stores in the U.S. market through franchising, while presenting Italian coffee in a way that was more familiar to Americans. In addition, Schultz constantly emphasized the so-called "third space" concept, viewing coffee shops as a social destination outside of living spaces and workplaces. This brand positioning has become Starbucks' most well-known brand identity.

Throughout Starbucks' entire development, Schultz has served as CEO three times. In April 2022, Schultz, who had been out of the company for four years, was asked back to serve as interim CEO and board member to "steady the ship."

In addition, Schultz, who returned for the third time, also completed an important mission: to find a successor for Starbucks. In September 2022, Starbucks recruited Laxman Narasimhan, who had served as an executive at consumer goods giants PepsiCo and Reckitt Benckiser. After six months of training, Narasimhan officially succeeded Schultz as CEO of Starbucks in March 2023.

Outside of Starbucks, Schultz is a passionate advocate for public affairs and issues. He has published four books on business topics, and the media reported in 2012, 2016, and 2020 that he had thoughts of running for president of the United States, but Schultz never officially ran.

Editor: Tan Yuhan