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

Schultz, 64, became director of operations and marketing at Starbucks in 1982.

Last year, Schultz stepped down as chief executive officer to become executive chairman, handing the top job to Kevin Johnson. The chain closed about 8,000 company-owned stores for an afternoon of anti-bias training last week, a decision that some shareholders questioned for the expense.

Schultz will also resign from Starbucks' board and will be named chairman emeritus, the company said in a statement.

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According to aNew York Times report, Schultz told the company past year he planned on retiring.

Could it possibly mean a Schultz presidential run? When the Times asked him directly if he's considering a run for president, he didn't say no.

"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines", Schultz told The New York Times on Monday.

Shultz said in the memo: 'I'll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I'm a long way from knowing what the future holds'.

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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that he would be retiring as executive officer of the company, and hinted that he might seek public office.

Schultz elevated the concept of Starbucks as the third place between home and work: a comfortable, welcoming environment that provides uplifting experiences, community and human connection. He spoke to the growing division in the country and America's standing in the world.

Schultz, added: "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".

Starbucks said Mr Schultz planned to write a book and spend time with his family this summer.

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This comes after the controversial episode in which two African American men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for trespassing. Shares of Starbucks have risen 21,000 percent since the company's initial public offering in 1992; an investor who had put in $10,000 then would have more than $2 million today.