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Originally published March 1, 2014 at 8:03 PM | Page modified March 2, 2014 at 11:59 AM

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Corrected version

For Starbucks execs, ‘to go’ may mean a hot corporate jet

Starbucks is leasing from CEO Howard Schultz one of the snazziest corporate jets around. Also: Tech entrepreneur David Giuliani aims to put entrepreneurial, data-driven thinking to work on the state’s many challenges.


Seattle Times business staff

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What do Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz, Nike boss Phil Knight and blockbuster movie director Peter Jackson have in common?

Among other things, they all like to ride in style: Each has his own Gulfstream G650, “one of the hottest private jets on the market,” according to trade publication Corporate Jet Investor. Only 54 of the $65 million birds have been delivered, it says.

Gulfstream calls the G650 the flagship of its fleet — and says it flies faster, farther and more comfortably than any other corporate jet. The plane can approach the speed of sound and fly 8,000 miles nonstop. It can also accommodate up to 18 people in its roomy cabin; buyers can choose from among 12 floor plans to customize it.

According to a Gulfstream brochure, the sleek jet also sports “the largest windows of any aircraft in the industry,” and a credenza with a pop-up LCD monitor, a printer and a wine chiller.

Schultz doesn’t keep this beauty to himself; he shares it with Starbucks. The company says that since it’s in the midst of a big ramp-up in international growth, it needs to send its top executives on more overseas trips.

A spokesman says that when Starbucks was looking to add extra capacity to its two-aircraft fleet, Schultz bought the G650 for his personal use — and the company’s board figured that subleasing the plane from Schultz “is a better deal for our company” than other alternatives.

So Starbucks pays an entity controlled by Schultz a monthly rent of $269,297 and is responsible for operation, insurance and maintenance of the aircraft, according to a securities filing. To make up for the overhead, Schultz pays Starbucks for his use of the plane; that was estimated to be worth $332,318 for the month of October. In addition, Starbucks rents part of its hangar to Schultz at roughly $23,000 per month.

The arrangement seems complicated, but Starbucks says it allows the company to pay only for its business use of the plane and not bear the full operating or maintenance cost, as it would under a standard lease.

— Ángel González: agonzalez@seattletimes.com

Business group says state can do better

David Giuliani’s newest creation has nothing to do with ultrasonic brushes and skin cleansers. In fact, for someone with a low profile in the civic and political arena, he’s taking a complete 180-degree career turn.

Giuliani, a Seattle medical-technology innovator who developed the Sonicare toothbrush and Clarisonic face scrubber, now wants to change how business advocacy is done at the state level.

As co-founder and chair of the 3-year-old Washington Business Alliance (WaBA), he’s working apart from older and bigger business lobbies to start a conversation about metrics and government accountability.

This past Thursday, Giuliani unveiled a strategic plan to put Washington in the top 5 percent of states for economic prosperity and quality of life by 2025.

“I’m an entrepreneur, and there’s a lot of things people can entrepreneur about,” he said to some 120 people who attended the unveiling at the K+L Gates law firm on the 29th floor of the Fourth and Madison Building in downtown Seattle.

“We don’t necessarily need to get people in Olympia to solve all of our problems. Many problems can be solved by the business community and other stakeholders,” he said. “Sometimes, it seems like business does a lot less than it could.”

Giuliani and fellow co-founder Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks, are big believers in taking a data-driven approach to complex problems. Modeled on a successful effort in Oregon, their strategic vision, dubbed “Plan Washington,” sets more than a dozen goals in the areas of economic development, education, environment, fiscal governance, health care and transportation.

The inaugural 24-page report is sure to kick-start a lively discussion by identifying the state’s strengths and weaknesses. The state, for example, ranks fifth nationwide for research-and-development funding, but 44th for the condition of its interstate highways. It’s first for affordable business electricity rates, but 36th for business tax system competitiveness and 38th for workers’ compensation premium costs.

Among WaBA’s economic goals is to see all 39 state counties exceed the U.S. average for employment and median household income. In education, it wants to see Washington in the top 5 for math and science global competitiveness among 8th-graders, up from 21st and 30th now.

“Our view is that effective governance requires a master plan that is well thought-out, transparent, rational and reflects people’s values,” Giuliani said. “What’s unique about the Plan Washington approach is that it looks across a whole spectrum of measures to get a comprehensive state profile.”

Giuliani, 67, lives on Mercer Island with his wife, Patricia; they have two grown children.

He said he had no political ax to grind or pet legislative project when he and Behar, a neighbor, came up with the idea for WaBA. Instead, he traces its roots to a shared sense the state was not living up to its full potential — and to an overheard conversation at his neighborhood Starbucks before he sold Clarisonic to L’Oreal in 2011.

“I heard some old guys at a table complaining about the president, the Republicans this, and the Democrats that. I said to myself, ‘What’s wrong with this country are people complaining about what’s wrong with this country,’ ” he recalled. “It needed to be done, and I just needed to make it happen, even though I was the CEO of a fast-growing company.”

According to Giuliani, WaBA has about 100 dues-paying members. Nonpartisanship is a bedrock principle, and collaboration with other nonprofits already is in the works, he said. WaBA, for example, is working with a group that represents local manufacturers to move jobs stateside again.

“There are lots of organizations dedicated to making our state a better place, and all are serving an important role,” he said. “However, the net sum isn’t giving us all we need. It just seemed there was something missing.”

— Amy Martinez: amartinez@seattletimes.com

Information in this article, originally published March 1, 2014, was corrected March 2. A previous version had the wrong acronym for Washington Business Alliance. It uses WaBA; WBA is used by the Washington Bankers Association.



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