Howard Schultz, who built a small Seattle coffee chain into the global powerhouse Starbucks, announced Monday he was retiring from the company, fueling speculation he may seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Schultz started at Starbucks in 1982 and served as chief executive from 1987 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017.
Nearly immediately, speculation began that the 64-year-old entrepreneur would run as a Democratic Party candidate in 2020, likely in a presidential bid.
"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines", Schultz, said in an interview with The New York Times.
He said he wants to figure out "if there's a role I can play in giving back".
Asked specifically about a US presidential run Schultz, said in a New York Times article on Monday: "I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service. But I'm a long way from making any decisions about the future", he said.
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Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz on the USA economy, the impact of the tax reform legislation.
Schultz, whose net worth is estimated at $3.2 billion, has had less day-to-day involvement since he stepped down as CEO, and near-term, the company's strategy is unlikely to change, said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst at Edward Jones.
He had often aligned himself and Starbucks with social issues like race and jobs for underprivileged youth - even when those efforts fell flat, like the "Race Together" campaign that encouraged workers to talk about race with customers.
He also credited the company with "balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility".
Starbucks said Mr Schultz planned to write a book and spend time with his family this summer.
He had been on CNN to talk about Starbucks' move to close 8,000 company stores for special training following an incident in Philadelphia in which an employee called the police on two African American men who were waiting in a Starbucks store for a friend. Shares in Starbucks dropped 1 percent to $56.50 in extended trading after the announcement.