Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who succeeded founder (and potential presidential contender) Howard Schultz in 2017, came from a career in tech, and he has spotlighted innovation and digital technology as one of the pillars of Starbucks’ ($SBUX) future. As the coffee chain kicked off its largest-ever shareholder meeting on Wednesday, those priorities were showcased in announcements about a new $100 million food startup venture and a continued push to shrink the company’s environmental footprint.
In a press release accompanying the shareholder meeting, Starbucks announced it would invest $100 million into a new food start-up venture fund with Valor Equity Partners, a VC firm known for its bets on Tesla and SpaceX. Starbucks also outlined plans to make its products and process more sustainable, including by introducing greener cups and fewer straws. In addition, Starbucks said it will embark on a modernization of its stores that focuses on “convenience, comfort and connection” based on feedback from customers.
“We’re really in the business of people,” Johnson said, echoing a famous refrain attributed to Schultz when he was building the company in its early days in Seattle: “We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.”