Starbucks in the White House? Former CEO’s 2020 Bid Making Company Nervous | NTK Network Starbucks in the White House? Former CEO’s 2020 Bid Making Company Nervous

Starbucks in the White House? Former CEO’s 2020 Bid Making Company Nervous

Howard Schultz might be running for president in 2020, and that is making the coffee company very nervous.

By NTK Staff | 07.17.2018 @2:00pm
Starbucks in the White House? Former CEO’s 2020 Bid Making Company Nervous

Former Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz may have more on his mind than his next cup of coffee.

As NTK Network reported back in 2016, Schultz has long mulled a presidential run, and was even included on Hillary Clinton’s (long-ish) short list for potential running mates. Last year, Schultz issued a company memorandum that read more like a political platform, laying out support for the DACA program, Obamacare, and opposition to Trump’s Muslim ban.

In June, Schultz stepped away from Starbucks for good, and the summer has been filled with buzz about what he’ll do next. And that very speculation is making Wall Street analysts nervous about what a Schultz run might do to the Starbucks brand.

As Schultz takes the summer off to contemplate a presidential campaign, the world is giving him a lot of downside to ponder, according to conversations with a dozen former Starbucks executives, equities analysts and others with insight into the coffee mogul, his former business and his recent moves.

“You’re putting a lot at risk. You’re putting your peace of mind at risk. You better really understand what you’re getting into. I’ve said that to him,” said former Starbucks President Howard Behar, a longtime Schultz confidant.

Behar compared his counsel to the advice he offered Schultz ahead of another audacious undertaking.

“When he bought the Sonics, I said, ‘Man, are you sure you know what you’re doing here?’ And that didn’t turn out great,” Behar said, referring to Schultz’s 2001 purchase of the SuperSonics, Seattle’s NBA franchise. His ownership ended in the team’s relocation to Oklahoma City in 2008, a sore point for Seattleites.

Despite Schultz’s separation from Starbucks, his close association with the brand he built will permeate the conversation. In fact, Schultz’s entire rationale for running is his experience building and running a massive global company from the “grounds” up.

But the truth is, Schultz isn’t completely separated from Starbucks, and that could pose serious conflicts of interest.

Further complicating a presidential run, Schultz, whose net worth Forbes pegs at $2.6 billion, retains 3 percent of Starbucks shares, posing potential conflicts that in some ways dwarf those posed by the Trump Organization. For one, Starbucks has staked much of its future on expected growth in China, where it enjoys an unusual level of access to local markets, operating its stores without an in-country partner.

Would a candidate Schultz divest his Starbucks shares? According to Politico, Schultz won’t say.

It’s still unclear what the future will hold for Schultz, but it’s a near-guarantee that whatever decision he makes, it will have a serious impact on the 2020 contest.

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