Howard Schultz, the outspoken executive chairman of Starbucks, is stepping down from the coffee chain later this month—and his next move could be a big one. "I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines," he told the New York Times. "For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country—the growing division at home and our standing in the world. 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. I’m not exactly sure what that means yet." Schultz, 64, has led Starbucks for three decades; he stepped away as CEO in 2000 to become chairman, the AP reports, but returned to the president and CEO role in 2008 before leaving it again to become executive chairman last year, per Starbucks.
There has long been speculation that Schultz, who has overseen massive growth at the coffee chain and aligned it with many progressive values, could run for president as a Democrat in 2020; asked directly if he's considering a White House run, he said he intends "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." He later added, "I want to be of service to our country, but that doesn’t mean I need to run for public office to accomplish that." Not surprisingly, however, the remark has spurred headlines along the lines of "Howard Schultz may consider run for president." Schultz did mention other specific plans: to focus on his family foundation and to write a book. Myron E. "Mike" Ullman will take over as executive chairman of Starbucks while Schultz will take the honorary title of chairman emeritus. (Read more Starbucks stories.)