Starbucks already embraces new technology, and Nadella's appointment makes further innovation more likely
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been invited to join the board of directors at Starbucks, along with Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club, and Jørgen Knudstorp, an executive chairman at Lego. Nadella is being brought onboard to add, “invaluable insight in international operations and distribution as Starbucks continues to focus on innovative ways to use technology to elevate the brand and grow the business.”
Nadella says he’s a regular Starbucks customer, a man after our own heart, and adds he hopes his years of tech industry experience will be valuable. Starbucks and Microsoft both originate in Seattle, and have worked together on projects already. The Microsoft Band 2 has a compatible Starbucks app, which enables contactless payment using the wearable, and Outlook also has a Starbucks add-in for enabling meeting schedules, and sending Starbucks digital gift cards.
The pair have also recently financially supported the No Child Left Outside campaign, but their cooperation dates back much further than that. For example, Microsoft was Starbucks launch partner when it announced in-store Wi-Fi hotspots in 2001, a service that may be common today, but was very unusual at the time.
Starbucks may be a coffee brand, but it’s equally known for its support of new technology, launching everything from wireless charging to mobile ordering systems in its stores. The chain supports both Android Pay and Apple Pay where available, and has a comprehensive mobile app of its own. Other Starbucks technology partnerships include those with ride-sharing app Lyft and Niantic’s Pokémon Go game. Nadella’s presence on Starbucks board may not lead to more direct Microsoft product tie-ups in the future though.
His appointment, along with the other two nominees, hasn’t been finalized yet, and will be confirmed at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting on March 22. He became CEO and member of Microsoft’s board in 2014.