Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been nominated to the Starbucks board, creating a new connection between the Seattle-area corporate titans and promising to give the coffee giant additional technology expertise.
Starbucks announced the nomination of three new board members this morning: Nadella, Lego Brand Group executive chairman Jørgen Vig Knudstorp and outgoing Sam’s Club CEO and Walmart executive Rosalind Brewer.
“Satya Nadella will bring to the Starbucks Board extensive experience and an understanding of how technology will be used and experienced around the world,” said Starbucks in an announcement this morning. “He will provide the Board with invaluable insight in international operations and distribution as Starbucks continues to focus on innovative ways to use technology to elevate the brand and grow its business.”
It’s the second big outside board seat for Nadella, who has been CEO of Microsoft for the past three years. Nadella joined the board of Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center last year. That was, at the time, his first outside board seat since becoming CEO.
Starbucks is increasingly using artificial intelligence, the cloud and mobile technology, including its Mobile Order & Pay feature, new efforts to personalize the customer experience via its smartphone app, along with a revamped rewards program. Kevin Johnson, who will succeed Howard Schultz as Starbucks CEO in April, was a colleague of Nadella’s during Johnson’s tenure as a Microsoft executive.
“I’m honored to have been nominated to join the Board of this world-renowned company,” said Nadella in the news release announcing his nomination to the Starbucks board. “As a regular customer myself, I’ve always admired Starbucks focus and deep passion for its customers and the communities it does business in and hope my years of experience in the technology industry will be of value to the company.”
The Microsoft CEO is well-positioned to understand Starbucks’ products. A native of Hyderabad, India, who now lives outside of Seattle, he told the Wall Street Journal previously that he drinks coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.
The new Starbucks board members will be up for election at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on March 22. In addition, longtime Starbucks board member James (Jamie) Shennan Jr. will retire from the Starbucks board, leaving it with 14 members after the changes.