Leading acorporate giant, Howard D. Schultz is thinking more like a manager and less like an entrepreneur.
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER Published: March 12, 2011
Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg News
A Changed Starbucks. A Changed C.E.O.
Starbucks is expanding in new directions, with ventures like instant coffee. Some Starbucks locations, including one in downtown Seattle, have been updated. New stores are beingdecorated with local woods and art, to make them feel more like a neighborhood shop.
RAISE your hand if you remember when Starbucks seemed cool. Anyone? Think back. To before the planet groaned with 17,000 Starbucks shops. Before the pumpkin spice lattes and the Ciao Amore CDs. Before the Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino ice cream, the Starbucks cream liqueur, the Pinkberry-inspired Sorbetto. Inshort, to before Howard D. Schultz and his trenta-size ambition turned a few coffeehouses here into the vast corporate Empire of the Bean. The world has often seemed three espressos behind Mr. Schultz — which is why the low-key guy sitting in his office here doesn‟t quite seem like Howard Schultz. Did he just say “but”? As in, “We have won in many ways, but ...”? Was that a “we” instead of an “I”? Anote of humility?
Yes, this is Howard Schultz: the man who willed Starbucks onto so many street corners — and then, for a moment, looked as if he might lose it all. Not even Mr. Schultz could have predicted how Starbucks would change our culture when its first shop opened here, in Pike Place Market, on March 30, 1971. Like it or not, Starbucks became, for many of us, what we talk about whenwe talk about coffee. It changed how we drink it (on a sofa, with Wi-Fi, or on the subway), how we order it (“for here, grande, two-pump vanilla, skinny extra hot latte”) and what we are willing to pay for it ($4.30 for the aforementioned in Manhattan). But during the depths of the recession, Starbucks nearly drowned in its caramel macchiato. After decades of breakneck expansion under Mr. Schultz,tight-fisted consumers abandoned it. The company‟s sales and share price sank so low that insiders worried Starbucks might become a takeover target. So, after an eight-year hiatus, an alarmed Mr. Schultz returned as chief executive in January 2008. He shut 900 shops, mostly in the United States, drastically cut costs and put the company back on course. Friends and colleagues say this hellish...