Almost immediately upon his resignation as executive chairman of Starbucks, the internet asked whether he planned to make a presidential run. While the jury is still out on that, Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz's net worth isn't as much of a mystery, and many are wondering whether that will play into any potential future political campaigns.
According to Forbes, Schultz isn't just a little wealthy; he's literally a billionaire. Ranked #887 on the financial magazine's list of billionaires worldwide, Schultz is estimated to be worth about $2.8 billion as of Monday, June 4.
However, the magazine also reports that Schultz wasn't always so financially sound. He grew up in the Canarsie Bayview Housing Projects in Brooklyn, and came from a blue-collar family. He graduated from public schools and was a first-generation college student; he attended on a football scholarship.
As Schultz tells it in his memoir, Pour Your Heart Into It, he took a few business classes as an undergraduate because he "was starting to worry about what [he] would do after graduation." Just a few years later, he took over a Seattle coffee shop chain, and transformed it into a massive international company.
"It took years before I found my passion in life," Schultz wrote, according to an excerpt published in The New York Times. "Each step after that discovery was a quantum leap into something unknown, each move riskier than the last. But getting out of Brooklyn and earning a college degree gave me the courage to keep on dreaming."
But while Schultz characterizes Starbucks as a dream come true for him, on Monday he announced he was stepping down as executive chairman. "I still feel like a kid from Brooklyn who grew up in public housing," Schultz wrote in a public announcement. "I am living the American Dream. And I still have dreams for the company, and for you. It’s been my honor to be in service to our partners."
He highlighted his childhood socioeconomic background several times in his statement. "Many of you also know that I set out to build a company that my father, a blue-collar worker and World War II veteran, never had a chance to work for," he wrote. "Together we’ve done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility."
He addressed rumors that he might make a presidential run in an interview with The New York Times following the announcement. However, though he spoke directly, he didn't offer a clear-cut answer regarding any potential future political plans.
"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines," he told The Times. "For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world."
Schultz explained that he wants to use his time in retirement to help make the world a better place, but he hadn't decided precisely what that would look like for him.
"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," he said. "I’m not exactly sure what that means yet."
Those who do not believe the exorbitantly wealthy should be in charge of an economically diverse population may not be so eager about a theoretical President Schultz. But, at the same time, others would argue that his success story is very different from that of the man who currently occupies the Oval Office.