Howard Schultz's departure from Starbucks has stirred fresh speculation he could run for president in 2020. And his strong connection to other business leaders could help him build a big campaign war chest.
Schultz, a billionaire himself, has been mingling with c-suite executives ever since he became chief executive officer of the popular coffee chain in 1986. This was particularly evident in 2011 when he called on industry titans to sign a letter pledging to not contribute to political campaigns until lawmakers put an "end to partisan gridlock" and pass a bipartisan debt and deficit package in order to control the increasing debt in the United States.
At the time, he managed to get over 100 signatures, including Millard Drexler, chairman of clothing company J. Crew, Tim Armstrong, then the leader of AOL and now the CEO of Oath, Bob Greifield, the former head of the Nasdaq stock exchange and Duncan Niederauer, the former head of the New York Stock Exchange. Alan Hassenfeld who at the time was the chairman and chief executive officer of toy manufacturing giant Hasbro and Scott Griffith, formerly the CEO of Zipcar, who now runs an online auction marketplace called Everything but the House, also signed the letter.