Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made news last week after reportedly telling shareholder Tom Strobhar "fuck you!" - not in so many words - after Strobhar questioned Schultz on the company's support for marriage equality, suggesting that he simply sell his shares if he didn't like Starbucks' stance on the issue.
Today, in a letter posted on the company's website, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that D.C.-area Starbucks employees will be writing "Come Together" on customers' cups, encouraging Republicans and Democrats to "come together" on a budget deal that would avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff." In the spirit of a free and open debate, we have a different proposal, which we're outlining here in an open letter.
Remember that place called "Starbucks" back in the day? Hahaha, people used to go there and drink coffee and things and instantly stereotype themselves by walking into this "Starbucks," a magical portal to a narrowly defined world of laughable cultural stereotypes? No wonder it totally fell off the map of relevance last year and disappeared into the thoroughly unsexy world of hobo coffee.
And you were thinking that the fro-yo trend was fizzling out. Pinkberry just revealed that it's secured another $5.8 million in venture capital financing, funds that will likely go to expanding the 73-store-strong chain. Pinkberry isn't the only frozen yogurt enterprise in growth mode. Red Mango recently raised additional funding, too, and says it plans to open 550 locations across the U.S. over the next five years. One small glimmer of hope: One of Pinkberry's big backers is Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, so there's always the possibility that the two chains combine at some point, thereby placing mediocre, overpriced coffee and mediocre, overpriced frozen yogurt under one roof. [WSJ, peHUB]
• The top restaurant in New York City, according to San Pellegrino's list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants: for 2009: Per Se, naturally. [Serious Eats]
• A look at the Gates, the new venue in the former Biltmore Room space. [GS]
• Be advised: Morton's is now charging $2.50 to add ice to your drink. [IC]
• It's been two years since the banh mi trend surfaced, apparently. [GS, Eater]
• Yet another victim of the recession: hot-dog cart vendors. [NYDN]
• Andre Balazs isn't saying much about the restaurant opening in the Standard Hotel, although he's willing to admit he's naming it after his daughters. [GS]
• Sorry, sex fiends: The Casbar, a sex club in the Brooklyn that was featured in the New York Times in February, has been shut down. [DBTH]
Six weeks ago, we revealed that Starbucks had put its brand-new, $45 million Gulfstream 550 up for sale the day before announcing plans to cut 6,700 jobs and close an additional 300 stores. It looks like they're not done trimming the corporate fat. The coffee chain put another plane on the market this week—a 2004 Challenger 604 that seats ten.
Now we know why Starbucks was so quick to put its $45 million jet on the market yesterday. The company announced moments ago that it plans to cut nearly 7,000 employees and close an additional 300 stores. The company's CEO, Howard Schultz, also says he plans to take a steep pay cut; he'll now earn approximately $4 a month if you subtract out his benefits package, which is almost (but not quite!) enough to pay for a venti Frappuccino once a month. The Wall Street Journal has more here. Melissa Allison of the Seattle Times has more detail here on the company's efforts to sell off its jet.
Citigroup created a storm of controversy earlier this week when it was revealed that the ailing bank planned to go ahead with the purchase of a $50 million corporate jet. It looks like the public reaction—which included a condemnation from President Obama and members of Congress—and the bank's decision to abandon the deal are being heard loud and clear across corporate America. We can report that Starbucks, which faced harsh criticism two weeks ago after it was revealed that the coffee giant had purchased a $45 million Gulfstream 550, is now looking to sell the plane, less than a month after taking delivery of the aircraft.
The Google Street View car was Spotted in Microsoft Country last week after launching in many smaller markets around the country first. Apparently the drivers, rather than use some fancy, newfangled Internet doohickey, simply burn the data captured by the rooftop camera array onto a CD and mail it back to Mountain View. The fact that Portland, Oregon and Juneau, Alaska were added to the list of Street View cities before Seattle inspired an April Fools article in local publication Naked Loon quoting a fictional Google spokesmonkey as saying the addition of Seattle was "extremely unlikely, save for some kind of highly localized disaster centered somewhere in Redmond."
With the purchase of a $5 gift card, or by entering your personal information in the company's database for a rewards program, Starbucks will allow you to sip on two hours of free Wi-Fi from AT&T at stores. The Seattle-based fast food chain may be one of the first to be hit by any economic downturn as Americans cut back on the affordable luxury of $4 caffeinated drinks and spend that money at competitors like McDonald's. One look at the stock's performance over the last year, down over 30 percent, and you can see why CEO Howard Schultz would look to freebies like Wi-Fi to keep the company's FrappucinoTM junkies coming back. As our very special correspondent once put it, "Wi-Fi isn't a luxury or even a commodity. It's a condiment."
Howard Schultz, the founder of Death Star coffee chain and religious icon Starbucks, built the company up from nothing with pure grit, energy, and a visionary outlook. Then he went too far, aiming to open 40-freaking-thousand stores (more than McDonald's), and the company's stock price cratered over the past year. Schultz brought himself back as CEO earlier this year, and the dynamic caffeine pusher has now revealed how he plans to revive his floundering company: by micromanaging the shit out of every god damn thing:
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz dampened analyst expectations for the company's performance ahead of its April 30 quarterly earnings anouncement, sending shares tumbling 10.4 percent in after-hours trading. "The current economic environment is the weakest in our company's history," he said to explain why the company is facing the first quarterly profit decline in eight years. The retailer has long traded on being a relatively affordable yuppie status symbol, serving up a dose of psychological salve for four dollars a cup to an American middle class in decline. But it looks like Schultz's stunt to bloster the elite cachet of a brand now as ubiquitously plebeian as your local McDonald's might not be enough to fuel continued growth. (Photo by Peter Kaminski)
Sad news for all you caffeine addicts out there: no, not the same old about how you're killing your heart, raising your blood pressure and such. Starbucks is closing! For three very important hours, that is. Today, starting at 5:30pm (peak post-work fueling time!), all 7,100 Starbucks locations will shut down for three hours. Why the oddly timed shutdown? Seems following 600 layoffs announced this week, Howard Schultz needs to infuse his remaining employees with some (very exciting and motivating!) training. But not to worry: rival Dunkin Donuts is offering 99 cent cups from 1 to 10 today. So even if you can't get your usual Venti Vanilla Creme With 3.4 Peppermint Shots and a 1/2 inch layer of whipped cream (low-fat, natch), you can still fake-smile your way through a half-and-half-drenched cup of Rachel Ray's favorite joe. [CNN]
Starbucks has fired Jim Donald as CEO, replacing him with Howard Schultz, the coffee chain's chairman. Changes in the works: Closing struggling stores, slowing store openings, and improving the "store experience." Translation: Dealing with the reality of competing with McDonald's as yet another fast-food chain. [WSJ]
Draper Fisher Jurvetson has led a $12 million investment round in Redfin, the Seattle-based online real-estate broker. But what does it say that Tim Draper and Steve Jurvetson, the venture capitalists behind such early Internet hits as Overture and Hotmail, have delegated new Web discoveries to junior partners in their firm? Emily Melton, a Stanford MBA with no big hits to her name, is joining Redfin's board, having "monitor[ed] Redfin's progress since early 2006," according to a company press release. Here's what that tells me about what investors really think.