Apple’s Steve Jobs asked Starbucks’ Howard Schultz to fire his leadership team

In 2008 Apple founder Steve Jobs “screamed” when faced with-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultzencouraged the coffee chain owner to fire his leadership team.

Schultz is a familiar face at the helm of the once Seattle-founded brand three separate terms in the corner of the office. His first was in 1987—when he and local investors bought the brand—until 2000 when he took a step back to concentrate on global expansion as chief strategist.

His second stint was from 2008 to 2018, and then his final return in 2022 for one year.

The timing of Schultz’s second appearance is important: 2008 was a year the company was in crisis and in desperate need of a turnaround, and the eventual comeback came after the coronavirus pandemic, when the ship needed to right the ship.

But even though Schultz was constantly used as a safe pair of hands for a brand worth more than $92 billion, he still relies on other notable brands Luck 500 CEO. And during his 2008 tenure, he was first introduced to Jobs and asked for his advice on how to run the board of directors he inherited.

Statement above Buy’ audio file was released last week, Schultz recounted the first contact he had with Jobs: “There is a future meeting scheduled for Starbucks and Apple about mobile ordering and payments as well as other things. I met Steve on the phone—never met him—was talking to him on the phone and I was telling him what was going on.”

Jobs invited Schultz—whose company was headquartered in Washington—to Apple’s offices in Cupertino, California to discuss the matter in person. At the time, Apple’s offices were located at the now famous “Infinite Loop” campus, which consisted of six buildings located around an oval courtyard.

Jobs was famous for walking around said yard – a habit currently approved by Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cookwho is known to wander around Apple Park’s circular headquarters.

“[Jobs] Schultz recounted. “He would go out and walk around the building. And so I went down there and we basically went for a walk. I just told him all my problems – everything that was going on.

“He just stopped me and said, ‘This is what you need to do.’ He looked at me and said, ‘You go back to Seattle and fire everyone on your leadership team.’ I thought he was joking.”

Schultz said he fired back: “I said what are you talking about ‘firing people?’ He said: ‘I just told you. Damn it, fire all those people.’ He was like shouting at me: ‘Fire all those people, that’s what I’m going to do.’ I said ‘Steve, I can’t fire all these people, who’s going to do this?

“He said: ‘I promise you in six months, maybe nine months, it will all be gone. He was right. Except for one person, the general counsel, they are all gone.”

Jobs and Schultz met again and his prediction was proven correct.

“I’ve been talking to him since then, we were on stage together at an event and I said to him: ‘They’re all gone.’ He said: ‘Well, you’re six months late, nine months late, think of all the things you can do.’”

Missed the opportunity

As the world’s largest coffee chain with more than 32,000 stores globally, Starbucks has clearly made the most of the opportunities it has.

However, there is one some decisions that Schultz regretsChief among them is not trademarking the phrase “caffe latte” — often shortened to latte — in the US.

While the origins of the latte – essentially mixing milk with coffee – can be traced back to Europe as early as the 17th century, the drink became standardized in the US in the 1970s with the help of of Starbucks.

“We introduced caffe latte to America,” added Schultz. “We didn’t trademark it. We later registered the Frappuccino trademark but we didn’t trademark the caffe latte, I didn’t think so.”


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