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Howard Schultz stepping down as Starbucks chairman

Howard Schultz to leave Starbucks

Howard Schultz, who helped build Starbucks into a global food industry powerhouse, is stepping down as executive chairman of the coffee chain.

"I write to you today enjoying a French Press of my favorite coffee, aged Sumatra, and feeling so many emotions," Schultz wrote in a letter to Starbucks employees. "Pride. Nostalgia. A heavy heart. But mostly, I sit here feeling a tremendous sense of gratitude. 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."

Schultz, 64, became director of operations and marketing at Starbucks in 1982. He later bought the company in 1987 and became CEO, with Starbucks going public five years later.

Schultz relinquished his post as chief executive in 2017 to focus on innovation and social issues, with former Starbucks president and chief operating officer officer Kevin Johnson taking over the role.

Starbucks said Myron E. "Mike" Ullman will take over as chairman of the board, and Mellody Hobson will become vice chair (Disclosure: Mellody Hobson is a regular contributor to CBS News).

Is Starbucks' racial bias training enough?

In a news release on Monday, the company noted that Starbucks' stock price has seen a 21,000 percent gain since its initial public offering in 1992. That means a $1,000 stake in the IPO would be worth around $210,000 today.

Starbucks shares fell 1.4 percent after the close of trading, when the company announced Schultz's exit as chairman. 

Over the course of his career at Starbucks, the company grew from a handful of stores into an international behemoth with 28,000 locations around the world. 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.

Starbucks captured nationwide attention last week when it closed 8,000 locations across the country for a day to train 175,000 employees about racial bias in one of the largest corporate responses to an incident involving racial profiling. It was a step Schultz called "just a beginning." 

Schultz has long been rumored to be considering a career in politics. He didn't discourage that notion on Monday, telling 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."

In his letter to Starbucks employees, Schultz also said he is considering a range of future options, including public service and philanthropy. "I still feel like a kid from Brooklyn who grew up in public housing. I am living the American Dream. And I still have dreams for the company, and for you."

Starbucks' Howard Schultz: Anti-bias training "just a beginning"