Speaking to reporters in late January, longtime CEO Howard Schultz claimed Donald Trump was “not qualified to be the president” and said he was “seriously considering” entering the 2020 presidential race as a “centrist independent.”
Like President Trump, Howard Schultz is a rich, white businessman with no experience in politics. Unlike President Trump, he is the son of two high school dropouts who grew up living in public housing in New York.
Schultz is Starbucks’ largest individuals shareholder, with roughly 37 million shares worth about $2.5 billion. He has an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion and, like Trump, has promised to distance himself from his financial interests should he win the election in 2020.
If Schultz decides to run for president, his biggest challenges will include:
- Running as an Independent
- His business interests in China
- His lack of experience
- His focus on bipartisanship
As analysts have been quick to point out, it’s likely Schultz’s campaign will help Trump win by splitting the vote among those who oppose Trump.
But in Schultz’s opinion, Democrats will ensure Trump’s re-election if they select a “progressive, left-leaning liberal…and there are enough of those people who are running.”
Schultz joined Starbucks as Marketing Director in 1982. In 1986, he purchased the company and its 17 locations for $3.8 million.
Schultz served as Chairman and CEO from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 until 2016.
Under his guidance, Starbucks expanded beyond Seattle and now owns more than 28,000 locations in 77 countries. The company’s fastest growing market is China, where Starbucks owns more than 3,300 stores.
Starbucks employs 300,000 people worldwide, including 157,000 in the US. In 2017, the company reported net revenues of $22.4 billion.
In 1988, Schultz decided to start offering health insurance to full- and part-time employees. In 2014, he arranged a partnership with Arizona State University so that Starbucks employees could take free college classes online.
In June 2018, Schultz announced that he would be leaving the company.
Howard Schultz is a Democrat, but has long supported bipartisanship. In January, he accused Republicans and Democrats of engaging in “revenge politics” and “consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people.”
In recent weeks he has criticized Democrats Elizabeth Warren (who is also running for president), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Kamala Harris. He donated to Obama in 2008 and endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“I think the American people are longing for and desiring leadership they can trust and a government that is working for them,” he said during an interview with The Seattle Times. “The current environment is filled with a level of toxicity we have not seen, certainly in my lifetime.”
Schultz, 65, is a strong supporter of refugees, veterans, and the LGBTQ community. He wants to find a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, but has called for immigration reform and tighter border security.
He does not agree with Trump’s plans to build a wall along the southern border.
Schultz supports tax reform, but has opposed efforts to increase taxes on the rich. He has repeatedly complained about the national debt, describing it as the “greatest threat domestically to the country.”
Early polling suggests he is massively unpopular among voters who know he exists.
Schultz is currently on a three-month tour promoting his book From the Ground Up and plans to make a final decision on his candidacy when he returns.