Who Owns Starbucks: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Starbucks: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) is a worldwide coffee-house chain. It makes money mostly by selling coffee-based beverages. Roughly half of its stores are licensed to third-party operators. But who owns Starbucks, and who controls it?

Starbucks largest shareholders are asset manager Vanguard, which owns a 9.2% share, and asset manager BlackRock, with a 6.6% ownership share. A notable shareholder is the company founder and long-time CEO Howard Schultz, who owns 1.9% of Starbucks.

 Starbucks's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2022)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Vanguard 9.2% 9.2%
BlackRock 6.6% 6.6%
Howard Schultz 1.9% 1.9%
Other 82.3% 82.3%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

Who ows Starbucks vs who controls it chart

In this article, I will dive more into who owns Starbucks and who controls it. I will show you who Starbucks’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth.

If you are interested, you can also explore who owns other companies like Coca-cola, Meta, Twitter, Amazon, or Roblox.

📃 Who Owns Starbucks?

Who owns Starbucks, largest shareholders donut chart

Starbucks is owned by its shareholders. The largest ones are asset manager Vanguard, which owns 9.2% of the company, followed by asset manager BlackRock with a 6.6% ownership share. Company founder Howard Schultz owns 1.9% of Starbucks.

No shareholder has a dominant stake in the company. Starbucks’s largest shareholders are asset managers Vanguard and BlackRock, which invest money on behalf of their clients.

  • It is not a surprise since they are the largest asset managers worldwide, and it is common that they are the top two shareholders in large public companies.

A sizable owner is also Starbucks’ founder and long-time on-and-off CEO Howard Schultz, who owns 1.9% of Starbucks. He is the largest known individual shareholder.

  • He currently serves as temporary CEO, and it was already announced that he would leave in April 2023 and hand the CEO post over to Laxman Narasimhan.
  • Schultz had already left the Starbucks CEO post several times, only to come back when Starbucks faced some challenges. However, he announces that he is not going back this time. So we will see.

Starbucks was founded in 1985 by Howard Schultz. It has been a publicly listed company since its initial public offering on Nasdaq in 1992. (Ticker: SBUX)

  • The oldest official readily available SEC filing states that Schultz’s stake at the end of 1996 was 4.3%.
  • However, that reported 4.3% number included a significant amount of options exercisable within 60 days. Without those options, Schultz’s ownership at the time was 2.5%. Similar to his current stake.

Starbucks Corporation is incorporated in the State of Washington (US), where it also has its headquarters in Seattle.

🎮 Who Controls Starbucks (SBUX)?

Who controls Starbucks, largest shareholders donut chart

Starbucks’s shareholders with the largest voting power are Vanguard, which holds 9.2% of all votes, followed by BlackRock, with 6.6% voting power. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz still has some influence with 1.9% of all votes.

Starbucks has only one class of outstanding shares, with one vote per share. Therefore, there is no difference between the shareholder’s ownership and voting power.

The ownership of Starbucks Corporation is quite dispersed, and the main shareholders are asset managers investing money on behalf of their clients. None of them control the company individually, but together they have a large influence.

Starbucks ‘s dispersed ownership might create conflicts of interest between Starbucks ‘s management and its investors, which are represented by another management layer in the form of asset managers. In situations like these, insiders of the large asset manager shareholders and insiders of the company hold significant power over it.

Dispersed ownership is one of the reasons why founder Howard Schultz still has outsized influence in Starbucks as current director and interim CEO, despite controlling only 82.3% of Starbucks.

Other Starbucks insiders that have influence over the company are future CEO Laxman Narasimhan, board chair Melody Hobson, and other board members and executives.

  • Starbucks currently has a 9-member board of directors.
  • Nobody from the board of directors or executive officers holds more than 0.05% share of Starbucks’s stocks (not considering options). Board chair Melody Hobson is close to that value.
  • Member of Starbucks’s board is also Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO.

🗳️ Breakdown of Starbucks’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

Starbucks Corporation had a total of 1,148 million outstanding shares as of December 2022. The following table shows how many shares each Starbucks’s large shareholder holds.

 Starbucks's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard 106 106 9.2%
BlackRock 76 76 6.6%
Howard Schultz 22 22 1.9%
Other 945 945 82.3%
Total (# millions) 1,148 1,148 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

There were 1,148 million votes distributed among shareholders of Starbucks Corporation. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Starbucks's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard 106 106 9.2%
BlackRock 76 76 6.6%
Howard Schultz 22 22 1.9%
Other 945 945 82.3%
Total (# millions) 1,148 1,148 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

💵 Breakdown of Starbucks’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Starbucks Corporation worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Starbucks could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 Starbucks's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard $10.5 $10.5 9.2%
BlackRock $7.5 $7.5 6.6%
Howard Schultz $2.2 $2.2 1.9%
Other $93.7 $93.7 82.3%
Total ($ billions) $113.9 $113.9 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

Let’s now look at each Starbucks shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are Starbucks’s Largest Shareholders?

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Starbucks Corporation one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in Starbucks worth.

#1 Vanguard (9.2%)

Vanguard's share ownership and voting power in Starbucks (chart)

Vanguard is the largest shareholder of Starbucks, owning 9.2% of its shares. As of December 2022, the market value of Vanguard’s stake in Starbucks was $10.5 billion.

Vanguard owned 106 million shares in Starbucks and controlled 106 million shareholder votes as of December 2022.

Vanguard (The Vanguard Group) is one of the largest asset managers in the world. It manages other people’s money through its mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and also offers other related investing and financial planning services.

Vanguard differs from other large asset managers by having no actual “owner .” Officially Vanguard says that its investors own it since its funds own it, and Vanguard fund investors own those funds.

However, the actual decision power is in the hands of Vanguard’s insiders since the ownership is diluted over millions of investors worldwide.

Vanguard has significant influence over the largest public companies. Thanks to its size, Vanguard usually belongs to the largest shareholders in those companies and has considerable power at their shareholder meetings. This is especially true if ownership is diluted.

#2 BlackRock (6.6%)

BlackRock's share ownership and voting power in Starbucks (chart)

BlackRock is the second-largest shareholder of Starbucks, owning 6.6% of its shares. As of December 2022, the market value of BlackRock’s stake in Starbucks was $7.5 billion.

BlackRock owned 76 million shares in Starbucks and controlled 76 million shareholder votes as of December 2022.

BlackRock, Inc. is the world’s largest asset manager, with assets under management of $10 trillion. BlackRock is not only an asset manager, but it also provides other asset managers and corporations with its Aladdin portfolio management software.

BlackRock is a publicly traded company, and its largest shareholders are its competitors, including BlackRock itself. Not directly but through their passive and active funds. The largest shareholder is Vanguard.

A similar situation is also true in the opposite direction because BlackRock is a significant shareholder in many of its publicly traded competitors and other large institutions, making the whole thing even more eyebrow-raising.

This circular ownership between Vanguard, BlackRock, and other large asset managers, amplifies the issue often raised about the power of these large asset managers over public companies since they usually belong to the most significant shareholders with large voting power.

  • In the case of Blackrock, this influence is personified in the form of its CEO Larry Fink, who is a powerful figure with close ties to the FED and US government.

  • Adding to these concerns is evidence that BlackRock and other asset managers usually vote in favor of management proposals.

#3 Howard Schultz (1.9%)

Howard Schultz's share ownership and voting power in Starbucks (chart)

Howard Schultz is the largest individual shareholder of Starbucks, owning 1.9% of its shares. As of December 2022, the market value of Howard Schultz’s stake in Starbucks was $2.2 billion.

Howard Schultz owned 22 million shares in Starbucks and controlled 22 million shareholder votes as of December 2022.

Howard Shultz is the founder and long-time CEO of Starbucks Corporation. He also wrote several books and contemplated candidacy for U.S. president several times.

Howard Schultz’s name is closely connected with Starbucks, the company he founded and grew from one coffee shop to a worldwide giant with 35 000 shops.

Currently, he serves as an interim CEO of Starbucks but plans to leave in April 2023.

❔ Is Starbucks owned by Tata Group?

If you encounter a Starbucks coffeehouse in India, you will notice that it usually has under or next to its name, “A Tata Alliance.” Why is that? Does Tata Group own Starbucks?

In India, Starbucks shops are operated by Tata Starbucks, which is a 50:50 joint venture between Tata Group and Starbucks Corporation. It has operated licensed Starbucks stores in India since 2012.

🧱 Who and When Founded Starbucks?

There is some confusion if Howard Schultz founded Starbucks or not. And the answer depends on what Starbucks we are talking about.

Howard Schulz is the founder of Starbucks Corporation as we know it now. A company that he grew from one coffee shop to a global coffee-house empire. But that company was not called Starbucks when it was founded in 1985.

But if we are talking about the original Starbucks company whose brand and name Schultz acquired in 1987, then Schulz is not a founder.

  • This Starbucks company was founded in 1971 by business partners Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. Howard Schultz was not involved at the time, although the company hired him as director of retail operations and marketing in 1982 before he set up his own company.
  • But this “original” Starbucks was a tiny outlet selling coffee beans and some equipment, not drinks.

📅 Starbucks’s History Timeline

These are selected events from Starbucks’s history:

  • 1985: The company was founded by Howard Schultz, but at the time, it was not called Starbucks but “Il Giornale.”
  • 1987: Howard Schultz acquired assets of and brand from the Starbucks coffee beans shop where he worked before he founded his own company. He changes his company name to Starbucks.
  • 1992: Starbucks’s initial public offering (IPO)
  • 1995: Starbucks begins serving Frappuccino
  • 2000: Howard Schultz stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Orin Smith.
  • 2008: Howard Schultz returns as CEO.
  • 2012: Launch of partnership with Tata in India, where a joint venture of Tata Group and Starbucks operates Starbucks stores.
  • 2012: Howard Schultz handed over the CEO position to Kevin Johnson.
  • 2022: Howard Schultz returns as interim CEO. He already announced that he would hand over the CEO position to Laxman Narasimhan in April 2023.

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