Leadership

Orin Smith, former Starbucks CEO, dies at 75

Chairman Howard Schultz says, “There would be no Starbucks of today” without Smith.

Orin Smith, a former Starbucks CEO known for his thoughtful, deliberate decision-making, died earlier this month of pancreatic cancer at the age of 75.

Smith joined Starbucks as an executive in 1990 and served as CEO from 2000 until his retirement in 2005. While there, he worked closely with executives Howard Schultz and Howard Behar, a trio sometimes referred to as H2O.

orrin smith

“He was the older brother I never had, always providing the wisdom and sage guidance to me and the company, while never seeking the stage nor the spotlight,” Schultz wrote in an email to Starbucks employees, as reported in The Seattle Times. “Always, shining the light and giving the credit to others. He made us all better, especially me. There would be no Starbucks of today, if not for Orin Smith.”

Smith was known as “the tortoise” in the Starbucks C-suite for his thoughtful decision-making process, the paper reported.

Smith would later serve on the board of the Walt Disney Co. and on the University of Washington Board of Regents. He donated $10 million to fund educational initiatives in his hometown of Chehalis, Wash.

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