Howard Schultz is stepping down as Starbucks executive chairman and leaving the company's board of directors, effective June 26, and he hasn't ruled out running for president. He said that will become chairman emeritus.
Schultz, who oversaw the transformation of Starbucks into a global chain with more than 28,000 locations, had left the CEO job at the company past year to focus on innovation and social impact projects.
Schultz's departure comes a week after the company closed more than 8,000 United States stores to provide racial bias awareness training to around 175,000 employees.
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He had endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before the last presidential election and had sometimes deflected questions about whether he would run for office. When the Times asked him directly if he's considering a run for president, he didn't say no.
Starbucks, which styled itself as a "third place" for Americans to congregate along with work and home, also because synonymous with an urban style that bred imitators and changed the food business.
"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines", Schultz, said in an interview with The New York Times.
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"One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back", he continued. "For years I've had a dream to build a different kind of company, one that has the potential to enhance lives and endure long after I was gone".
In his letter, Schultz also credited the company with "balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility". Shares in Starbucks dropped 1 percent to $56.50 in extended trading after the announcement.
Myron Ullman, the former chairman and CEO of retail giant J.C. Penney, will replace Schultz as executive chairman of the board.
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Most recently, he was involved in steering the company through an anti-bias training program that was kickstarted after a Philadelphia cafe manager's call to police resulted in the arrests of two black men who were waiting for a friend.