Howard Schultz — the financial and operating arm behind the world’s largest coffee company, Starbucks — has announced that he will be stepping down in April 2017.
Schultz, 63, who has been the CEO of Starbucks for decades, became famous in recent years for leading Starbucks in a progressive and socially aware direction with initiatives like the controversial Race Together project, which opened up racial conversation between baristas and customers. Schultz will be succeeded by the current COO of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson.
“This is a big day for me,” Schultz said in an interview with The New York Times. “I love the company as much as I love my family.”
He did not give a specific reason for leaving, only stating that Johnson is “better equipped” than he is to lead the company This is also not the first time he has stepped back from operations, having taken a break from his CEO position from 2000 to 2008 to become a chairman. Again, Schultz will not leave Starbucks, but will instead become executive chairman.
There is speculation that Schultz — a known friend of the Clintons — is eyeing a presidential run:
“I’m all in on all things Starbucks and have no plans to run for public office,” he said, adding: “That’s the way I feel today.”