Howard Schultz is an American businessman and author who served as Starbucks CEO for over 23 years in multiple stints. Coming from a poor family, Schultz made it big and lived the “American dream”. Howard Schultz’s net worth is estimated at around $3.7 billion in 2024.

Let’s dive into his career, learn more about his net worth, and get into his life story to see what insights we can learn from Schultz who was instrumental in redefining the coffee industry not only in the US but also globally.

Howard Schultz Net Worth Breakdown

Howard Schultz is a successful entrepreneur with interests in both privately held assets as well as publicly traded securities, primarily Starbucks shares. This makes it impossible to calculate his exact net worth without his input. However, we’ve been able to collect plenty of public information surrounding his various sources of income, investments, assets, and business ventures to build a solid estimate, which we break down here for you.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Starbucks stake $2 billion
Starbucks annual dividend $50 million
Real estate $150 million
Personal assets $200 milion
Other investments $1.2 billion

Howard Schultz Net Worth: Early Life and Family

Howard Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. His father Fred Schultz was a World War 2 veteran who did not graduate from high school and took up various blue-collar jobs including as a truck driver, factory worker, and cab driver.

howard schultz childhood
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Schultz married Sheri Kersch in 1982. Kersch holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Denver but her LinkedIn profile doesn’t list any other professional experience.

Sheri Schultz is the co-founder and chairperson of the Schultz Family Foundation. The couple have two children, a son Eliahu Jordan Schultz who has worked with different companies, and a daughter Addison who was born in 1990 and has a master’s Degree in Social Work from NYU.

Howard Schultz Net Worth: The Beginning of a Hectic Career

Although Schultz came from a humble background, he has always been able to take advantage of business opportunities as they came to him. Here’s how he worked to build his net worth up to billions of dollars.

Early Career

Howard Schultz’s early career was literally all over the place. After his graduation, Schultz took up a job at a ski lodge in Michigan. He then worked in sales and marketing at Xerox for three years in New York. After Xerox, Schultz worked as Vice President and General Manager of Hammarplast U.S.A., the US arm of the Swedish housewares company.

A coffee bean store called Starbucks Coffee Company had been buying many of the Hammarplast Swedish drip coffee makers. Schultz traveled from New York to Seattle to meet the company owners and was impressed with the efforts that the owners put into choosing and roasting the beans, as well as their work toward educating the public about the wonders of coffee connoisseurship.

“I walked away saying, ‘God, what a great company, what a great city. I’d love to be a part of that,'” recalled Schultz. He cajoled the owners to hire him but it took one year to convince them.

howard schultz early career
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Howard Schultz Net Worth: Early Days at Starbucks

In 1982, Schultz joined Starbucks as the director of marketing and retail operations when it had only four stores. Next year, he traveled to Italy on a buying trip where he was impressed by Italian coffee bars and the experience that they offered to customers.

There were around 200,000 of these coffee bars in Italy and aside from serving excellent coffee, they also doubled as meeting places or public squares. Back then, the US didn’t have the kind of coffee culture that Schultz saw in Italy, and that was when he got the idea of doing something similar back home.

Arriving back in the US, he tried to convince the owners of Starbucks to follow a similar model and serve traditional espresso beverages in the stores along with selling whole bean coffee and tea leaves. The owners weren’t on board with his idea because they didn’t want to get into the restaurant business.

Starting His Own Coffee Company Instead

Schultz left Starbucks to start his own coffee bar business named Il Giornale, securing a $100,000 investment from a local doctor Ron Margolis and another $150,000 from Starbucks.

italian coffee menu
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In the meantime, Starbucks’ then management turned its attention to another business named Peet’s Coffee & Tea and in 1987, sold Starbucks retail unit to Schultz for $3.8 million. Schultz rebranded his Il Giornale stores with Starbucks’ name and began expanding the business aggressively.

Howard Schultz Net Worth: Revolutionizing the Coffee Business 

When Schultz acquired Starbucks it had fewer than 20 stores. In just four years, Schultz expanded the footprint to 100 stores, and in 1992, Starbucks went public pricing the shares at $17 and raising $29 million from the IPO.

Schultz described Starbucks’ listing as “the happiest day of [his] business career”. By the end of its first fiscal year as a publicly traded company, Starbucks had 165 stores and generated revenues of $103 million. The company’s presence was limited to North America at this point.

By the end of the decade, Starbucks had expanded globally and opened stores in Japan, China, and Europe lifting the store count to 3,000. In 2000, Schultz quit as the CEO and transitioned to the role of chief global strategist and chairman, working towards international expansion.

After Schultz stepped down, Orin Smith took over as the CEO of Starbucks and held the position until his retirement in 2005.

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The global financial crisis coupled with rising competition from the likes of McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts took a toll on Starbucks stock and it plummeted 50% during the tenure of these two CEOs. Amid the crash in Starbucks stock, Schultz returned as the CEO in January 2008 to replace Donald.

In a letter to employees after the return, Schultz said, “If we take an honest look at Starbucks today, then we know that we are emerging from a period in which we invested in infrastructure ahead of the growth curve.” He added, “Although necessary, it led to bureaucracy. We will now shift our emphasis back onto customer-facing initiatives, better aligning our back-end costs with our business model.”

Starbucks CEO for the Second Time

Markets gave a thumbs up to the announcement and Starbucks shares rose on the news that Schultz would return as the CEO. Upon his return, Schultz led the company’s revival and embarked on a transformation strategy that entailed the mass firing of executives and employees and closing hundreds of stores.

He subsequently led the growth strategy and under his leadership – Starbucks completed the acquisitions of several US and Chinese beverage companies.

The same year, Starbucks made its debut on social media and joined Twitter and Facebook. Schultz also sent the first Transformation Communication Agenda to Starbucks employees who are also known as partners. In 2011, the company refreshed the brand and unveiled a new contemporary logo.

He also revamped the company’s ethics policy and increased the purchase of fair trade coffee. In early 2017, Schultz stepped down as the CEO and became the executive chairman while Kevin Johnson took over as the CEO.

In 2018, Schultz then retired from Starbucks and became the chairman emeritus. In his second stint with the company, Starbucks had doubled its store count to 30,000.

March 2022 saw the second return of Schultz as the company CEO after Kevin Johson left the company. He held the position for just about a year and handed over the baton to Laxman Narasimhan in 2023.

It was the third time that Schultz stepped down from the company. In 2024, while Narasimhan is Starbucks CEO Rachel Ruggeri is the chief financial officer.

Laxman Narasimhan starbucks
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Howard Schultz’s Controversy as a Union Buster

Schultz has been branded a union buster in the past because Starbucks has resisted calls for unionization. Senator Bernie Sanders has been among the most vociferous critics of the company and said, “Starbucks has waged the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country” – an allegation Schultz denied vehemently.

Schultz responded to the allegations saying, “Starbucks Coffee Company unequivocally — and let me set the zone for this very early on — has not broken the law.”

Schultz has said that Starbucks workers are paid stock options through which they get to own the company’s stock and are also provided health care and retirement benefits and stresses that the company is a pioneer in providing these benefits to workers.

Schultz also established the Starbucks College Achievement Plan in 2014 in collaboration with Arizona State University. Schultz announced that under the program eligible US employees working either part- or full-time will receive full tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree and can choose from more than 140 undergraduate degree programs.

Howard Schultz vs. Bernie Sanders

During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in 2023, Schultz said, “We are a different kind of public company that balances profitability with social conscience.” He added, “Aspiring to achieve that vision has been my life’s work.”

While today, Schultz is among the richest self-made billionaires in the US, he objected to his being referred to as a “billionaire”. While Schultz admitted that he has billions of dollars, he stressed that he earned the money and wasn’t given to him by someone else.

“I grew up in federally subsidized housing. My parents never owned a home. I came from nothing. I thought my entire life was based on the achievement of the American dream,” Schultz told Bernie Sanders during the hearing.

howard schultz bernie sanders
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Notably, Schultz and Starbucks received some support from Republicans amid the calls for unionization at Starbucks stores. Ironically, Schultz had supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidential elections and Starbucks protested against many policies of Donald Trump.

Schultz has criticized Trump’s immigration policies and after Trump’s ban on immigration he said in an open letter that Starbucks would add 10,000 immigrants.

Meanwhile, after resisting calls for unionization for months, Starbucks is now warming up to the idea and the company and unions have said that they are looking to “a constructive path forward” on “the future of organizing and collective bargaining”.

Howard Schultz’s Political Ambitions

While plenty of business leaders tend to be politically correct, Schultz has been quite open with his political views and is seen as a “liberal hawk” in foreign policy affairs, socially liberal on the domestic politics front, and a “deficit hawk” on the economic front.

He has voiced support for American-led international affairs and is a proponent of neoliberalism. He considered running for the US president as an independent in 2012, 2016, as well as 2020 elections but eventually decided against it.

He endorsed both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton in their Presidential runs and has called himself a “life-long Democrat. He also endorsed Biden in 2020 in an email to his personal list.

Howard Schultz Net Worth: Other Business Ventures

Apart from Starbucks, Schultz has been associated with other businesses and in 1998 started a venture capital firm named Maveron along with investment banker Dan Levitan. The fund invests in early-stage consumer-focused companies in the US.

The fund has invested in dozens of companies in ecommerce, education, fintech, media, and food industries. Here are some of the companies that the fund has invested over the years:

  • Allbirds
  • Caraway
  • Brewbird
  • Lovevery
  • Bend Health
  • Everlane

The fund has also made some notable exits including from companies like Dolly, Drugstore.com, eBay, and Flywire.

Schultz used to own the Seattle SuperSonics NBA franchise but in 2006 sold it to Clay Bennett for $350 million which was a neat gain of $150 million on his 2001 purchase price of $200 million.

howard schultz from the ground up

Howard Schultz Net Worth: Other Assets and Investments

Schultz hasn’t revealed all that many of his major spending decision but we do know that he owned the 77-meter luxury superyacht called Pi custom-built by Feadship. He bought the boat in 2019 and is reportedly selling it for a bigger one. He also owns a Gulfstream G650 private jet with a value pegged at around $65 million.

Investments

Schultz has sizeable real estate investments and owns several properties including a mansion on the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle, the family’s primary residence. In addition, he owns an eight-bedroom holiday home in Hawaii which is valued at around $25 million. Schultz also owns a penthouse in New York City worth $40 million.

While we don’t have any publicly available information about whether Schultz has invested in cryptocurrencies, he has backed blockchain and said that digital currencies would gain traction with consumers, although it might not be bitcoin – which is currently the largest and most popular cryptocurrency.

Howard Schultz’s Philanthropy

Like many other billionaires, Howard Schultz uses some of his immense wealth for charitable causes through his Schultz Family Foundation. The organization has three main impact areas:

  • Young adults
  • Military Veterans
  • Entrepreneurs

The organization’s website says, “The Schultz Family Foundation is committed to lifting the human spirit and bringing possibility to everyone, regardless of skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or station in life.”

The Foundation has provided grants to dozens of organizations since it was founded. It has helped fight youth unemployment and in 2022 committed $100 million to diverse businesses.

“For too many people today, the American dream feels out of reach. I find this to be unacceptable, which is why we are launching this fund to invest in diverse businesses that have unfairly been excluded from opportunity for too long despite their enormous potential to help rebuild our country,” said Schultz.

What Can We Learn from Howard Schultz’s Life?

Howard Schultz’s life has a lot of important lessons to teach those of us who dream of making it big despite humble beginnings. Schultz had a far from perfect childhood and while his father worked hard to make ends meet, he never earned much. Schultz has also said that his father was physically abusive. His life is an example of how one can still become hugely successful despite not come from privilege.

Schultz’s life is a lesson in persistence and hard work. He created the biggest coffee chain in the world and came back to rescue the company when it was facing a crisis, twice.

Schultz also puts a lot of emphasis on teamwork and believes that leaders should share credit with the team. “This is a team sport. It has always been a team sport. I’ve gotten more credit than I deserve. The company has a large base of fantastic leaders,” said Schultz in an interview with CNBC.

In the same interview, he said that while he had no idea that he would become a businessman, “I knew in my heart that if I was ever in a position where I could make a difference, I wouldn’t leave people behind.”

With Starbucks, he has created a company that he says, “my father never got a chance to work for, in which people were respected.”