Howard Schultz. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Frappuccinos, pumpkin spice lattes, and now … NFTs?

Yes, Starbucks is apparently getting into the world of NFTs.

That’s the word from Howard Schultz, who is running the Seattle coffee giant as interim CEO after Kevin Johnson officially transitioned from the top role Monday.

Schultz, who led the company for more than two decades before handing the CEO reins to Johnson in 2017, held a town hall meeting Monday where he reportedly said that Starbucks was “going to be in the NFT business” by the end of this year. Video of his comments at the meeting were leaked to Jordan Zakarin, a reporter at More Perfect Union.

Schultz admitted he is not a “digital native” but has been studying NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a burgeoning technology that allow people to secure unique ownership of artwork, videos, photos, and other digital content on the blockchain. Sales on OpenSea, a NFT marketplace, were at $2.5 billion in March, down from $5 billion in January, Reuters reported.

Other companies and brands including Taco Bell and Papa Johns are dipping their toes in NFTs. iHeartMedia is creating a new NFT-based podcast network, Axios reported Tuesday. Last month TIME released the first-ever full magazine issue as an NFT.

“If you look at the companies, the brands, the celebrities, the influencers that are trying to create a digital NFT platform and business, I can’t find one of them that has the treasure trove of assets that Starbucks has, from collectibles to the entire heritage of the company,” Schultz said at the town hall meeting, known as “Partner Open Forums.”

We reached out to Starbucks for more details and will update if we hear back.

Starbucks on Monday also announced that it is suspending its stock repurchasing program. Schultz, who has rejoined the company’s board, at the meeting Monday also reportedly addressed the rising unionization efforts among Starbucks employees.

Starbucks has more than 30,000 stores and employs more than 400,000 people. Its stock is down more than 20% over the past year.

The company’s board has formed a working committee to conduct an ongoing search for Johnson’s permanent replacement. A decision is expected by this fall.


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