然后，他正式向约翰逊递交了这家咖啡店的钥匙。他说，近35年来，他一直随身携带着这把钥匙。两人合影留念。到早上6点22分，太阳还没有升起的时候，两人就离开了。“自我提醒：不要把钥匙弄久了。”在走出店门的时候，约翰逊高声耳语道。Every year, before
第二个关键领域将由舒尔茨亲自挂帅。作为执行董事长，他正在引领星巴克开发一个高端品牌和“体验式目的地”，以吸引那些放弃购物中心，转而光临小店的消费者。这项策略涉及一波三管齐下的攻势，其中包括(1) Roastery咖啡烘焙工坊——这是星巴克受电影《查理和巧克力工厂》启发而建立的少数几家大型超豪华咖啡宫殿;(2)一种被称为Reserve甄选的稀有咖啡豆，这是一个全新品牌;(3) Reserve甄选咖啡门店，属于二级精品店，比一般的星巴克咖啡店高一级，但没有Roastery咖啡烘焙工坊那样高端。如果一切顺利，这些新选项甚至有可能吸引一些以纯正咖啡主义者自诩的消费者。这些消费者宁愿花费16美元，在诸如Blue Bottle这类“手工作坊”购买一杯单一产地咖啡，也不愿屈尊光临星巴克。
一些分析师质疑约翰逊缺乏零售经验，但舒尔茨着重强调了他长达34年技术从业经验的重要性。他承认，日益关键的数字业务并不是自己的“主要技能”。The new CEO need not have worried, it turns out. “I have another key,” Schultz tells me a month and a half later in his office at the company’s Seattle headquarters.
Could there be a more apt metaphor? Handing over control of a company is always tricky—Schultz, 63, officially relinquished the CEO job on April 3—and doubly so when it involves a charismatic, longtime leader who all but founded the company.
In Schultz’s case, how does a notorious perfectionist who craves total control apply his perfectionism to the act of ceding control? That challenge is all the more fraught because his most notorious professional failure by far was his last attempt to leave as CEO, in 2000, a slow-boiling disaster that eventually concluded with his triumphant return. Schultz really, really, really wants to nail it this time. “I would say that, of the list of the most important things that a public CEO has to get right, succession is in the top three,” he says. “I did not get it right the first time around.”
For its part, Wall Street has made its position absolutely … contradictory: Starbucks must prepare a new generation of leadership!! And also, Howard, could you stay just a little longer?!?
None of that makes it easy for Johnson, 56. In addition to replacing a legend—as he has quipped, he has venti-sized shoes to fill—the new CEO is doing so at a time when Starbucks’ sales have turned from scalding to tepid. Same-store sales, a key metric, are still rising, but at the slowest pace since the financial crisis. The company has fallen short of analysts’ expectations on that measure for five consecutive quarters.
Despite that, Starbucks’ ambitions are audacious. The company recorded $21.3 billion in revenues last year, ranking it at 131 on the Fortune 500—and it’s projecting it will reach $35 billion in sales by 2021. To achieve that hoped-for 64% revenue explosion, Starbucks plans to open some 12,000 stores over the next five years, which would bring its total count to 37,000. The majority will be in China, a market the company thinks could be its biggest someday. Some 3,400 of the new stores will be in the U.S. (By comparison, Chipotle has about 2,300 in its entire system.)
Beyond covering the planet with coffee bars, Starbucks has two main growth initiatives, which Johnson calls the “most critical things for the future of the company.” Johnson will be in charge of one of them: the continuing development of Starbucks’ digital and mobile operations. That’s a natural mission for him, given that he was an executive at Microsoft (msft, -0.54%) for many years and, later, CEO of telecom hardware maker Juniper Networks. Starbucks is already a leader in this realm, with 25% of orders now placed or paid digitally. Johnson’s task will be to expand and iron out the logistics so that a system made to facilitate speed and convenience doesn’t leave customers frustrated and cooling their heels.
The second key area will fall to Schultz. As executive chairman, he’s leading Starbucks’ push to develop a higher-end brand and “experiential destinations” to entice people who have abandoned malls to stop by a store. That strategy involves a three-pronged attack consisting of (1) the Roastery, a handful of massive, ultraluxurious coffee palaces inspired in part by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; (2) a new brand of rare and single-origin coffee beans called Reserve; and (3) a second line of boutiques—a notch above a regular Starbucks but not quite as over the top as the Roastery—also called Reserve. If all goes well, those options might even lure some self-styled purists who spend $16 for a cup of single-origin pour-over at an “artisanal” coffee emporium like Blue Bottle and wouldn’t deign to set foot inside a Starbucks.
There’s a tension there. Schultz wants to keep serving 90 million people a day, maintain the admiration of Wall Street—and be respected by the coffee community. He’s an aficionado, and this feels personal. It’s no coincidence that his drink of choice, the double macchiato—a traditional espresso “stained” with a dash of frothy milk—is downed more often by people standing at the bar of a café in Rome than in a typical Starbucks.
But his company achieved epic success not so much by emulating Italian coffee as by adapting it to American tastes, what one tiny rival derides as the “Big Gulp version of coffee and milk.” Schultz initially hesitated to sell frappuccinos, says Howard Behar, a Starbucks executive for 21 years. “It didn’t live up to his purist idea of coffee,” says Behar. Schultz has always asked one question, Behar says, since the beginning: How do we elevate the coffee? Now he’s making it his primary mission. All of which suggests he won’t be leaving anytime soon.
The first time Schultz stepped aside as CEO in 2000, the process started fairly smoothly. His successor, Orin Smith, was a company veteran who had served as CFO and COO at various times. Schultz knew and trusted him. Business was booming.
The circumstances changed five years later, after Smith retired. By then Jim Donald had taken over, and Schultz’s relationship with him became “complicated,” according to Schultz’s 2011 book Onward. Donald, a former Walmart (wmt, +0.48%) executive, was an outsider, and the two regularly disagreed on major hiring decisions. Schultz’s entrepreneur’s disease—his inability to detach from the company he had built—began to show itself. “I put the responsibility on myself,” he tells Fortune. “I don’t think I was prepared as I certainly am today to recognize the need to let go.”
Schultz returned as chief executive in 2008 as the business struggled, owing to a combination of a spiraling economy and what Schultz, in a famous leaked memo to Donald, called the “commoditization of the Starbucks experience.” Schultz, who had retained the chairman title, returned to the CEO job and was hailed for the turnaround and the stellar run that followed.
Those kinds of accolades are great for the ego but less so for succession plans. When Johnson was announced as CEO on Dec. 1, the company’s stock briefly dropped 12% in after-hours trading. “Investors are very focused on it,” says restaurant industry analyst John Zolidis. “They’re well aware of what happened the last time Howard Schultz stepped aside.”
Schultz is now walking a fine line, making it clear that Johnson is running the business but signaling that the big kahuna is never far away. “I say not only that he’s becoming the CEO of Starbucks, but I want you to know he is going to be the CEO,” Schultz said during his prepared remarks at the company’s investor day in December, preempting the likely question from analysts. “He’s got the last word. He is running the company.” All of Schultz’s direct reports except for two—Liz Muller, senior vice president of creative, global design, and innovation, and Cliff Burrows, president of the group overseeing the Roastery and Reserve—have shifted to Johnson.
Still, it takes time for everyone to adjust, and even Schultz’s attempts to be encouraging betrayed the faintest hint of the old lion patronizing his successor. Less than a month after Johnson officially became CEO, he hosted his first earnings call with analysts on April 27, and Schultz was on the line.
“Kevin, congratulations on your first call. I think you did really well,” he said after the presentation of the company’s results, which had failed to meet analysts’ targets. Referring to Starbucks’ China CEO, Belinda Wong, Schultz added, “And, Belinda, coming from China in the middle of the night, I could not be more proud of you.”
Johnson ran the management discussion but left time for Schultz—who described himself as the “unscripted closer to summarize what’s been said”—to speak before executives took questions.
Schultz is adamant that this transition will be different from the last. For one thing, he says, Johnson isn’t an outsider. That’s technically true, but slightly misleading. Johnson, a company director since 2009, spent his career at Microsoft and other tech companies, then took an executive role as Starbucks’ chief operating officer and president in 2015, beginning when the last heir apparent, Troy Alstead, departed.
Some analysts question Johnson’s lack of retail chops, but Schultz has stressed the importance of his experience as a 34-year tech industry veteran. This increasingly critical digital business is not Schultz’s “primary skill,” he admits.