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Starbucks, Uber CEOs talk new partnership, emphasis on company culture

Key Points
  • Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi discuss the importance of company culture and their new partnership with CNBC's Jim Cramer.
  • The Uber chief elaborates on his work to repair the privately-held tech giant's culture, but says the "work is never done."
  • Starbucks' Johnson breaks down how his company culture is helping it succeed in China.
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Starbucks, Uber CEOs on new partnership, company culture

The new partnership between coffee giant Starbucks and Uber's delivery division, Uber Eats, came around in part because of Uber's continued efforts to improve its culture, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC on Friday.

In a joint "Mad Money" interview with Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson, Khosrowshahi told CNBC's Jim Cramer that "culture work is never done."

Still, he said, he believes Uber is in a stronger position now than last year, when Uber's founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick resigned amid ongoing revelations about widespread problematic behavior throughout the company and its upper ranks. When Khosrowshahi took over, he vowed to repair the company's "moral compass."

"The fact is that some of the Uber culture was good in that it created an incredible company that grew extraordinarily fast [and] innovated very quickly," Khosrowshahi, former CEO of Expedia, told Cramer. "But I think that what happens is success sometimes imprints faster than failure, and sometimes, when you succeed too fast, you don't take the time to kind of rebuild the frameworks from within."

"Now, I think we're at a much better point in time. We get to have partners like Starbucks that are extraordinary partners that we can align with," the Uber chief continued. "The culture work is never done, but I'm much, much happier where we are today than where we were a year ago."

Company cultures are top of mind for many investors and consumers at a time of moral reckoning around the world. For Uber, partnering with a company like Starbucks — known for its high moral standards — is a major win as the ride-hailing service readies itself for a potential initial public offering in 2019.

That commitment to social responsibility is what makes Starbucks so successful in China despite flares in the trade dispute between the People's Republic and the United States, its CEO, Kevin Johnson, told Cramer from Starbucks' newest Roastery in downtown Manhattan.

"We've always been a company that invests in our partners and takes care of our partners," Johnson said, referring to his 250,000-plus employees around the world.

"As we talked to our Starbucks partners in China, one of the things that they said was important to them was being able to care for their aging parents," the CEO said. "So we created a completely new form of insurance, which is parental illness insurance to help with catastrophic illness of parents. And now our partners have that ability to take care of their parents. It really is a family-oriented culture."

Starbucks shares shed 2.35 percent on Friday amid marketwide weakness, settling at $65.34. At its investor meeting on Thursday, Starbucks lowered its long-term earnings forecast, but highlighted some of what management saw as its more promising growth strategies, including its delivery partnerships with Uber Eats in the U.S. and Alibaba in China.

To read the transcript from Johnson and Khosrowshahi's complementary interview, aired on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Friday, click here.

Watch Kevin Johnson and Dara Khosrowshahi's full "Mad Money" interview here:

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Starbucks, Uber CEOs talk new partnership, emphasis on company culture

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