Big Banks Can Be Non-Disastrous On Social Media

Speaking in front of an industry trade group, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was asked if he would ever join Twitter: “If only I didn’t have so many minders that would rip it out of my hand,” he responded.

About 24 hours later, JPMorgan canceled a live Twitter Q&A session with its vice chairman, Jimmy Lee, after #AskJPM, the hashtag used to field the questions, was quickly taken over by vociferous critics of the bank. Maybe Blankfein’s minders were on to something.

The bank canceled the event and a JPMorgan spokesperson emailed reporters to say, “#Badidea! Back to the drawing board.”

In retrospect, of course this happened.

JPMorgan used to be the one megabank whose reputation was burnished by the financial crisis: It quickly paid back its bailout money, snapped up Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual at the request of the government in the midst of the darkest days of the financial crisis, and had its so-called “Fortress Balance Sheet” that protected it from downturns. These days, however, it’s more known for its rapidly increasing legal bills, a massive derivatives trade gone bad, and investigations by regulators all over the world.

Just after the Twitter chat was canceled, The New York Times reported that JPMorgan had hired the daughter of Wen Jiabao, China’s former prime minister, under a pseudonym, for consulting and help in getting business in China. A source with knowledge of the events said that the cancellation of the Q&A was not due to the imminent publication of the Times story.

On the YouGov Brand Index, a large survey of consumers’ perceptions of brands, JPMorgan scored below Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America.

This wasn’t the first time a hashtag had been taken over by critics: In 2012, a promoted McDonald’s hashtag (#McDStories) turned into a way to mock the quality of its food, and conservatives gleefully hopped on recently #ObamacareinThreeWords to criticize the president’s health care law.

Does Wall Street Just Not Get Social Media?

It might seem that way — the services are blocked or banned on most trading floors, and Bloomberg even built a Twitter function to allow its subscribers to see some Twitter accounts through their terminals. Very few bankers have Twitter accounts, and the ones who do — largely technology bankers in the Bay Area — rarely tweet about anything industry-related thanks to strict compliance rules about corporate communications.

But before the #AskJPM fiasco, JPMorgan’s Twitter presence was pretty normal, and even effective, for any large corporation. JPMorgan’s social media team, which exists separately from its public relations staff, helms a number of Twitter accounts, including @Chase, @ChaseSupport, @ChaseSmallBIz, and @ChaseBiz.

The bank’s social media efforts are mostly based around its Chase brand. The split in the bank’s Twitter identity reflects the split in the bank’s corporate structure: The retail brand Chase and the investment banking and trading operation JPMorgan. One does credit cards and home loans, the other credit default swaps and IPOs.

The @JPMorgan account is a bit newer and feels more web-native, and even posted a 1918 letter from King George V thanking the real J.P. Morgan for his personal help in WWI — on Thursday, of course.

The thought behind hosting a Q&A with Jimmy Lee, a Wall Street legend with a long pedigree at JPMorgan and its predecessor banks, was to reach college students, according to a source familiar with the plan. As the Twitter furor rose to ever higher levels, with 6,000 almost exclusively negative tweets and with Lee himself aware of what was happening, the PR and social media staff together decided to cancel the next day’s event, according to the person.

Is There Another Way?

Last month, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan’s rival in landing M&A deals, IPOs, and facing opprobrium from critics, hosted a live Q&A with Stephen Scherr, the head of the bank’s financing group and a member of its management committee. Instead of fielding the questions through Twitter, the bank instead tweeted a link to a website that allowed followers to submit questions.

In a live video broadcast, Scherr answered questions from Jake Siewart, the bank’s head of communications, on economic and financial trends in Latin America and corporate financing, the exact two topics Goldman wanted questions on. While the broadcast itself was live, the questions were curated and filtered through the man in charge of Goldman’s image.

It worked.

A spokesman for Goldman declined to comment.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/big-banks-can-be-non-disastrous-on-social-media

‘No more’! Pat Sajak’s had it with ‘nation’s capital’s’ ‘offensive’ team name

http://twitter.com/#!/screwtape1a12/status/497386729738088448

Enough is enough:

http://twitter.com/#!/patsajak/status/497386491740319744

Ha!

http://twitter.com/#!/SteveGump/status/497387139915841536

Given what we’re saddled with, we sure would be.

***

Related:

Twitchy coverage of Pat Sajak

Twitchy coverage of the Washington Redskins

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2014/08/07/no-more-pat-sajaks-had-it-with-nations-capitals-offensive-team-name/

How Bear Stearns Went From Opportunity To Burden For JPMorgan

JPMorgan is about to feel the heat from its 2008 acquisitions of the investment bank Bear Stearns and the failed savings-and-loan Washington Mutual. The bank is reportedly set to pay out a $13 billion settlement to end civil cases from at least three regulators, stemming from alleged due diligence failures and misrepresentations to investors in JPMorgan, Bear Stearns, and Washington Mutual’s sale of mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis.

JPMorgan spent just over $1 billion on Bear in March 2008, with the Federal Reserve providing $30 billion in financing. JPMorgan then got its hands on Washington Mutual’s banking operations in September for just under $2 billion following the bank’s failure.

At the time, JPMorgan executives, including chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, sold the deals to shareholders and the public at large as smart decisions for the bank that, even if they were done at the request of the federal government. But as the deals receded farther into the past and the litigation from the two banks’ pre-acquisition actions started up again, JPMorgan executives started to change their tune.

2008 — “a good economic transaction…a terrific fit.”

Bill Winters, then co-chief CO of JPMorgan’s investment bank. Kieran Doherty / Reuters

Bill Winters, then head of JPMorgan’s investment bank, told shareholders before JPMorgan purchased Bear Stearns that the bank was in the market for the businesses Bear had: “If a special opportunity came up to acquire a prime broker at a decent return, we wouldn’t hesitate. We’ve always said, if there was one for sale, we’d love to look at it. There happens to be one for sale and we’d love to look at it. And we are looking at it.”

When the deal was first announced on the night of March 16, the bank’s chief financial officer Michael Cavanaugh told analysts that “this is a good economic transaction for JPMorgan Chase shareholders” and that the deal would add about $1 billion to the company’s annual earnings. He specifically pointed to Bear’s prime brokerage business, basically trading and services for large investors, as a particular target: “We pick up a strong Prime Brokerage and global Clearing business where Bear Stearns is a leader and we look forward to bringing that capability into JPMorgan Chase.”

Steve Black, co-head of JPMorgan’s investment bank, said, “It’s a terrific fit from a very well-established franchise that a lot of which can take leading positions that we have, and take them to a whole different level. So, very, very pleased to be able to have an opportunity to do it.”

Reuters/Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, told analysts in the bank’s third-quarter earnings call on Oct. 15, “We still expect Bear Stearns’ businesses to add about $1 billion to earnings of the company … A lot of that comes out of prime broker, some comes out of energy … We’ve got some terrific bankers, et cetera, so we feel good about the deal.”

2009 — “Bear Stearns has added significantly to our franchise.”

JPMorgan Chase 2008 Annual Report / Via files.shareholder.com

Dimon said in his annual shareholder letter in March 2009, “Under normal conditions, the price we ultimately paid for Bear Stearns would have been considered low by most standards,” but that JPMorgan required a “huge margin of error” because of the risks attached to Bear Stearns’ deteriorating business.

But he also said that “Bear Stearns has added significantly to our franchise,” particularly the prime brokerage and commodities business, and repeated the bank’s earlier estimates that Bear would add $1 billion in annual earnings.

The next month, in a conference call after the bank announced its first-quarter earnings, Dimon said that Bear’s equity sales business was “very strong” and it helped JPMorgan gain market share in investment banking.

2010 — “We think we have built a great franchise here.”

At the Barclays Capital Global Financial Services Conference, Dimon said that JPMorgan had a “great franchise” in investment banking and pointed specifically to the Bear Stearns acquisition: “We have added prime broker, mostly out of Bear Stearns, and commodities, which we are building and we continue to build. So we think we have built a great franchise here.”

2011 — “Our deep pockets are an attractive target for plaintiffs.”

JPMorgan Chase 2010 Annual Report / Via files.shareholder.com

Two years out from the financial crisis, JPMorgan started to feel the legal heat from Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual’s pre-acquisition actions. Instead of trumpeting how the purchases solidified JPMorgan’s investment banking and retail footprints, Dimon instead focused on how “the legal challenges we face stem from our acquisitions of Bear Stearns and WaMu, where we inherited some of their exposure.”

He also said that plaintiffs were going after JPMorgan precisely because they had so deftly sidestepped the financial crisis and were in such good shape relative to the rest of the industry: “Had we not acquired these firms, there would be no lawsuits because there would be no money to pay — our deep pockets are an attractive target to plaintiffs.”

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Jes Staley, then head of the investment bank, said in September that “beginning with the Bear Stearns merger and then the acquisition of Sempra, we have made an important investment in the commodity space” and that the bank had become “one of the largest physical commodities traders in the financial markets.” JPMorgan is now looking to sell its physical commodities business.

2012 — “I put it in the unfair category.”

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Last year, the tone began to change in Dimon’s public statements about Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, referring to the legal reserves the bank put aside for litigation stemming from the acquisitions as “unfortunate, but that’s life,” and that the troubles JPMorgan was facing over the activists of Bear and WaMu would “make it much harder in the future for companies to buy a troubled company.”

Following New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s suit against JPMorgan for Bear Stearns’ mortgage-backed securities abuses in October, Dimon told the Council on Foreign relations, “I’m going to say we’ve lost $5 billion to $10 billion on various things related to Bear Stearns now. And yes, I put it in the unfair category.”

He also made sure to emphasize that JPMorgan bought Bear at the request of the government, saying, “We did it at great risk to ourselves… Would I have done Bear Stearns again knowing what I know today? It’s real close.”

2013 — “We didn’t anticipate that we’d be paying anything for prior losses for Bear Stearns.”

New York Post / Via nypost.com

After JPMorgan reported its first-ever loss during Dimon’s reign thanks to $9 billion added to their reserves for legal expenses earlier this month, Dimon said on a conference call, “We didn’t anticipate that we’d be paying anything for prior losses for Bear Stearns” and that Dimon had asked the Securities and Exchange Commission not to take legal actions against JPMorgan for Bear’s actions. He didn’t get similar assurances from the Justice Department, which is negotiating the reported $13 billion settlement.

As news of the settlement broke, even some in the media defended Dimon. The Washington Post wrote a staff editorial called “JPMorgan Chase’s political persecution,” and Charlie Gasparino, the pugnacious financial journalist, wrote in the New York Post that JPMorgan was being “extorted” by the federal government for Dimon’s “withering critique of the Obama economic agenda.”

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/how-bear-stearns-went-from-opportunity-to-burden-for-jpmorga

An Early Twitter Investor Is Poised To Make More Than $100 Million Off A Small Investment

Stephen Lam / Reuters

Twitter’s biggest investors stand to own about a billion dollars in stock when the company goes public, but while those venture firms — including Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures — invested big and repeatedly in the social platform, one of the IPO’s biggest winners will be a much smaller, early investor.

Charles River Ventures put a mere $250,000 into Twitter in its earliest days. The firm’s stake is poised to be worth more than $100 million when the company goes public later this year at a valuation that’s expected to be more than $10 billion, according to information from earlier funding rounds and people familiar with the company’s investments.

Charles River Ventures, like Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and some of the company’s earliest investors, are expected to get a return that is hundreds of times what they put in. Costolo’s stake will likely to be worth more than $10 million off an initial $25,000 investment, according to The New York Times. Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures will both have stakes worth at least $1 billion according to the same report, but they also invested in later rounds.

Charles River’s investment, spearheaded by partner George Zachary, came when Twitter’s precursor, called Odeo, appeared to be failing. But Twitter, a side project by Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, and others, showed early promise. A decade later the company is one of the largest media platforms on the world and is, essentially, where news breaks first.

Such risky early bets are often career-making successes for investors. Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, was one of Facebook’s earliest investors and ended with a stake that was worth hundreds of millions from an initial $500,000 investment. These investments are rare, but the absolute return is as close to a home run as it gets in the venture capital community. And it does show a level of continuing risk — and faith — when the investor does not sell shares over time as the company’s valuation increases.

Charles River Ventures has also invested in Dropbox, another heavily watched startup in the online storage space, as well as Yammer — which sold to Microsoft for more than $1 billion.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/mattlynley/an-early-twitter-investor-is-poised-a-massive-payout

This mesmerizing map shows the Mississippi River is slowly moving across America

This mesmerizing map shows the Mississippi River is slowly moving across America

This 1944 map of the Mississippi River may be one of the most stunning geological maps ever created of the US. One of a series of 15 images that trace most of the course of the Mississippi River, the map was created in the early 1940s as part of an otherwise dry, 170-page government report for the Army Corps of Engineers. The bright green, red and blue layers trace various courses of the river back to 1765, while the cross-hatched or dotted segments are even older.

You can see the entire series at Radical Cartography, a remarkable blog run by historian and cartographer Bill Rankin.

Read more: http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/10/28/this-mesmerizing-map-shows-the-mississippi-river-is-slowly-moving-across-america/

J.Crew Is Airing Its First National Television Ad

J.Crew’s new TV commercial.

As this year’s wave of holiday commercials start hitting televisions across the nation, look for newcomer J.Crew among them.

The retailer, which says the video above is its first national TV ad, is running a marketing campaign with MasterPass, the digital payment platform that MasterCard introduced in February. Like other digital wallet apps, customers can store their billing and shipping information in MasterPass — whether it’s MasterCard, Visa, American Express and so on — to avoid reentering the data, in a bid to make online shopping more seamless.

J.Crew, like other retailers, has seen a growing proportion of its revenue come from the Internet in recent years. Online and catalog sales accounted for about 30% of the company’s $2.2 billion in annual revenue through February. By working with MasterPass, the hope is that customers will get better service and possibly buy more or more frequently thanks to an easier shopping experience. This year, with a shortershopping season and middling consumer confidence, retailers are also trying everything to get shoppers’ dollars.

The 30-second spot showcases J.Crew’s holiday collection — complete with square frames — through a family photo shoot. (Interestingly, children’s clothes only make up 6% of J.Crew’s annual sales.)

It will air on network and cable TV from Nov. 4 through Dec. 8th, as well as on YouTube and Hulu.

J.Crew and MasterCard’s 30-second commercial features a family photo shoot.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sapna/jcrew-first-national-television-ad

Abercrombie Buyout Possibility Grows With Even More Management Changes

Abercrombie & Fitch, which just this week added three people to its tight-knit board of directors and stripped Chief Executive Officer Mike Jeffries of his chairman role, announced another management change on Thursday, adding to evidence the micro-managing CEO is finally loosening his grip on the teen retailer, perhaps with his eye to a buyout.

Jonathan Ramsden, 49, will be promoted to chief operating officer from chief financial officer, and the company will seek a new CFO, Abercrombie said in a statement today. Prior to today’s announcement, the role of Chief Operating Officer did not exists at Abercrombie. BuzzFeed reported two weeks ago that Ramsden has gained more influence and decision-making authority at the teen retailer in the past 18 months as Jeffries’ leadership has been called into serious question.

When the retailer terminated a shareholder rights plan earlier this week, Stifel analyst Richard Jaffe said it made “a buyout of the company easier and possibly more likely.” The board and executive management changes, less than two months after an activist investor wrote a nine-page open letter calling for the 69-year-old Jeffries’s ouster, make that an even bigger possibility.

Jeffries, who has led Abercrombie since 1992 and is considered its modern-day founder, has been a subject of controversy in the past two years, amid revelations of corporate misconduct, including inappropriate behavior on the company jet and the executive-level involvement of his partner, who is actually not an Abercrombie employee. Off-trend fashions have resulted in declining same-store sales, which in turn have sent shares plummeting by so much the retailer was removed from the S&P 500 last year.

In October 2012, it was reported that at least one private-equity firm considered the idea of a takeover before walking away over concerns about Jeffries’s leadership. The same report said that private-equity firms might be willing to invest if they could move Jeffries aside after a leveraged buyout.

To that end, while Abercrombie renewed Jeffries’ employment contract for another 12 months in December, it also announced that it would hire presidents for its namesake and Hollister brands, positioning the two as potential successors to Jeffries in the future. Ramsden’s new title proves his status as an indispensable second-in-command at the teen retailer, with the added benefit of being a favorite on Wall Street, as BuzzFeed reported earlier this month.

The board additions, which include a new independent chairman, show Jeffries is getting much more oversight. All three have backgrounds in retail, compared with the nine existing directors, who are largely prominent Columbus, Ohio, locals. (Among them: two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin and Elizabeth Lee, the headmistress of a local uniforms-required private school.)

“Along with the new brand president positions, the creation of the new COO role will ensure we are organized for renewed growth and success going forward,” Jeffries said in today’s statement.

Private-equity firms have been checking out U.S. retailers recently. Last year’s buyouts included Hot Topic and Neiman Marcus, and in the past few months, rumors have swirled about possible a possible leverage buyout of Aeropostale. And, of course, there is the ongoing merger saga between Men’s Wearhouse and JoS A. Bank.

Ramsden said in today’s statement he looks forward to “working closely with Mike to on-board the new brand presidents and to fulfill the potential of our iconic brands and maximize shareholder value.”

Glenn Welling, the activist investor who founded Engaged Capital, which has been pushing Abercrombie for change, urged the retailer’s board to consider a sale in his nine-page letter last month.

“A sale of the company to a private equity buyer may represent the best option for shareholders,” he wrote. “However, as we have learned through discussions with industry insiders and private equity firms, Mr. Jeffries’ presence represents a major stumbling block to a transaction.”

It’s possible that after the past month, Jeffries may not be quite as big a stumbling block as he has been in the past.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sapna/abercrombie-buyout-possibility-grows-with-even-more-manageme

Hedge Fund Handbook Or Kinky Sex Advice?

As you’d find through hedge fund manager Ray Dalio’s manifesto, capitalism and sexual liberation operate on the surprisingly similar assumptions: that honest and rational self-interest will bring the most amount of pleasure to everyone. In both fields there is a deeply American language of the self — stressing the benefits of radical honesty, self-help, and an unembarrassed pursuit of self-actualization. There’s a reason sex positive columnists like Dan Savage are called the Classical Liberal of the sexual barter economy. As long as two consenting adults can barter an agreeable exchange of pleasures, everything is (assumed to be, at least) peachy.

No surprise, then, that Bridgewater Associates’ “Principals” sound like Steve Jobs giving a BDSM workshop.

Bridgewater Associates is not only the world’s biggest hedge fund (managing over $122 billion in assets), but also the most famously cultish one. If you’re one of Bridgewater’s 1,200 elite employees, you’re not only required to read founder Ray Dalio’s autobiography and manifesto, you’re also rigorously quizzed on it.

Can you tell which of these quotes is sex-positive advice, and which is from Bridgewater’s employee handbook?

  1. 1. Who said this?


    1. Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” Column


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  2. 2. Who said this?


    1. “Unleashing Our 2nd Orgasm: Self-Discovery Through Sex Toys”


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  3. 3. Who said this?


    1. Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  4. 4. Who said this?


    1. Diaries of A Sensitive Dominatrix


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  5. 5. Who said this?


    1. Dan Savage


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  6. 6. Who said this?


    1. The Ethical Slut


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  7. 7. Who said this?


    1. The Alpha Male’s Game Book


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  8. 8. Who said this?


    1. Opening Up: A Guide To Creating And Sustaining An Open Relationship


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  9. 9. Who said this?


    1. Coming Out As A Kinkster: A Radical Honesty Manifesto


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  10. 10. Who said this?


    1. Dan Savage


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  11. 11. Who said this?


    1. A Loving Introduction to BDSM


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  12. 12. Who said this?


    1. Golden Years: Rediscovering Love In Old Age


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  13. 13. Who said this?


    1. How To Save Your Passive Aggressive Marriage


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  14. 14. Who said this?


    1. 12 Pillars of Polyamory


    2. Bridgewater Associates

  15. 15. Who said this?


    1. How To Have A Three Way, Your Way


    2. Bridgewater Associates

Hedge Fund Handbook Or Kinky Sex Advice?

SHARE YOUR RESULTS

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/kevintang/hedge-fund-handbook-or-kinky-sex-advice

Starbucks CEO Asks Customers To Keep Firearms Out Of Its Stores And Seating Areas

Updated – Sept. 18, 11:45 a.m., EST

Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz wrote an open letter to fellow Americans on Tuesday with “a respectful request” that customers no longer bring firearms into its stores or outdoor seating areas.

In the letter, posted to the coffee company’s blog, Schultz noted that while Starbucks has respected open-carry laws in states that allow residents to openly carry firearms in public, the debate over such rules has become “increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening.” Pro- and anti-gun activists have held events in Starbucks stores and made it a place to hold arguments, which Schultz says is inappropriate.

Thousands have taken to Starbucks’ Facebook page and the company’s blog, claiming they will no longer visit the coffee chain because it’s violating their constitutional rights and inviting criminals in. Others have responded, thanking Schultz, asking why a firearm is needed to visit Starbucks and telling pro-gun advocates that their absence will shorten lines.

The request is different from a ban, particularly because a ban would require Starbucks partners to potentially confront armed customers, which Schultz is not comfortable with, he wrote.

“For those who oppose ‘open carry,’ we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores,” he wrote. “For those who champion ‘open carry,’ please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.”

Starbucks “did not expect to satisfy extreme activists on either side of this debate, however, we do believe the majority of our customers will agree that our approach is reasonable, and we hope that people will understand it even if they disagree,” said Zack Hutson, a spokesman for Starbucks. “This is a request and not a ban. We will not put our partners in the uncomfortable position of enforcing this request, but we are being clear that weapons are not welcome in our stores. If customers choose not to abide by our request, we will serve them as we always have.”

The request is not about Schultz’s personal views, but about what’s best for the company, he said.

Schultz declined to be interviewed.

Pro-gun activists began holding rallies at Starbucks locations this summer because of the company’s compliance with open-carry laws, calling the events “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” and adding a firearm to the chain’s mermaid logo. Another group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, responded in August with a nationwide boycott of Starbucks.

“Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called ‘Starbucks Appreciation Days’ that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of ‘open carry,’” he wrote. “To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.”

The letter from Schultz comes weeks after a Newtown, Connecticut, coalition asked the CEO to change its policy of allowing guns to be carried into its stores.

An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company (Full Text)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Posted by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer

Dear Fellow Americans,

Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.

From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.

We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.

For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.

I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.

I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.

Sincerely,

Howard Schultz

Via starbucks.com

A photo posted to a Facebook page for “Starbucks Appreciation Day.” scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net

Schultz said the Starbucks Appreciation Day events disingenuously portrayed the company as a champion of open-carry laws. scontent-b-lga.xx.fbcdn.net

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/sapna/starbucks-ceo-asks-customers-to-keep-firearms-out-of-its-sto