Ex-Instagram exec departs Howard Schultz’s team after 5 months as presidential endeavor goes quiet

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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at a shareholder meeting in 2017. (GeekWire Photo)

Mike Develin, a former Instagram and Facebook analytics chief, has left Howard Schultz’s team just five months after he was hired. Develin’s LinkedIn page notes that he is currently “taking a break and recharging.”

“Applied an evidence-based approach to help bring a more sensible approach to an industry, politics, that I imagine most people would agree yields poor outcomes both theoretically and empirically,” Develin wrote about his time as Schultz’s chief analytics officer.

The departure of Develin — who served as Instagram’s head of analytics from 2016 to 2018 — comes as Schultz’s presidential ambitions seem to be losing steam.

Erin McPike, a spokesperson for Schultz, said Develin left the campaign for “personal” reasons but is still supportive of the effort. She added: “Howard is actively considering running for president.” Develin couldn’t be reached for comment on the departure.

Previously: Howard Schultz hires former Instagram analytics chief, looks to build tech team in advance of possible White House bid

In March, GeekWire spotted nine job openings for Schultz’s team on LinkedIn. There are now just two, one of which is no longer accepting applications.

“We have made hires but aren’t discussing personnel decisions,” McPike said.

It’s possible that the other roles have been filled, but the dwindling job listings aren’t the only sign that Schultz has cooled on the prospect of running for president in 2020.

When Schultz first started discussing a presidential bid in January, he sat for interviews, spoke at events, and was active on social media. He frequently discussed politics and his vision to run as a centrist, independent candidate while promoting his newly-released book, From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America.

But Schultz hasn’t spoken publicly since April, canceling several events. McPike said the cancelations were due to back surgery, from which Schultz is still recovering. He has also been less active on his social media channels, posting just a handful of times since April.

Schultz’s White House bid is unpopular among many Democrats who fear he will siphon votes from the Democratic nominee and improve President Trump’s chances for re-election.

Develin joined the Schultz team because of his view that “data is the voice of the people at scale,” according to his LinkedIn page.

“What I delight in is figuring out what they are trying to tell us and using that to help make better decisions on their behalf,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “I’m currently trying to bring that democratic approach to our political system.”

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