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Starbucks knows about you

Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz might be making some wonder if his company is the 21st Century equivalent of Big Brother in the novel, 1984.

In the cover article in this week’s Time magazine, Schultz is revealing those ubiquitous coffee shops are collecting data on us…lots of data.

"We have a lens on almost every community in America,” he tells Time. “At 4:30 in the morning, I wake up and see the numbers of basically every store from yesterday.” And he adds that over the past few years those numbers have pointed to a “fractured level of trust and confidence” among Americans. Schultz blames that on dysfunctional government and the belief that no one is looking out for the welfare of the middle and working classes.

But Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief Aaron Task wonders-- you needed a massive data bank to know that?
“Look at the poll numbers, the approval ratings for Congress, for the President of the United States until very recently,” he says. “We could have told you that without having to get up at 4:30 in the morning.”

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Yahoo Finance Columnist Rick Newman thinks Schultz is collecting all that data not only because he wants to help the downtrodden in this country… but because he’s a smart businessman.

“He’s got a lot of concern for the underclass and he’s worried about income inequality and what’s the big move Starbucks is going to do this year-- they’re going to start building even more exclusive coffee bars that might serve wine. They’re going upmarket. That’s a great business move. So if he goes upmarket, increases the company’s profitability and turns a little bit of that back into these community concerns, great. But it’s all about business, let’s be honest.”

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Task doesn’t have a problem with that strategy.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he argues. “He’s saying what’s good for the community is good for my employees is good for the P&L, everybody wins, shareholders, too. That’s a good thing.”

So might Schultz be interested in taking his effort to the national stage and run for President? He tells Time no… at least for now… adding, “I don’t think that is a solution. I don’t think it ends well.”

But Task thinks we might be hearing Schultz being asked that question for years to come.

“Maybe he’s the Democratic Donald Trump, he suggests. “He’ll always be out there talking about it but never actually run because he knows he’s not going to win. But he could drive the conversation in the party, potentially.”

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