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Stephen Gillett

, Star Tribune

March 10: Best Buy lands new leader for digital side

  • Article by: THOMAS LEE
  • Star Tribune
  • March 10, 2012 - 12:35 AM

There's a new big geek on the Best Buy campus.

Just 48 hours after Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens departed Best Buy Co. Inc., the consumer electronics giant announced Friday that it has hired Starbucks Corp. Chief Information Officer Stephen Gillett to lead its digital efforts.

As executive vice president and president of Best Buy Digital and Global Business Services, Gillett, 36, joins Best Buy's senior leadership team and will report directly to CEO Brian Dunn. He will oversee BestBuy.com and other e-commerce efforts at a time when the Richfield-based company is trying to better integrate its rapidly growing digital sales with its struggling physical stores.

"E-commerce is one of the fastest-growing sales channels for our business," Dunn said in a statement. "We want to build on that momentum and Stephen's track record makes it clear that he can help us engage customers online in even more compelling ways."

Gillett, who starts at Best Buy next week, is a geek in the truest sense. He has worked at Yahoo, CNet Networks and Sun Microsystems. He also was chief information officer for Corbis, a digital media company owned by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

And he is an avid gamer. According to his blog, "The Guild CIO," Gillett describes himself as "Guild Leader in the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) World." His game of choice at the moment: World of Warcraft.

But it's Gillett's work at Starbucks that Best Buy values the most.

In addition to his CIO responsibilities, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz tapped Gillett to lead its Digital Ventures business unit.

There, Gillett oversaw the launch of the Starbucks Digital Network, a partnership with Yahoo that allowed store customers to access digital content on their laptops and mobile devices. Such content included free access to subscriptions at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, exclusive iTunes music downloads and documentaries from Snag Films.

"I am excited ... to work together in innovating and expanding [Best Buy's] offerings into a broad multichannel environment that integrates stores, digital, mobile, and social" media, Gillett said in a statement. Best Buy "has a unique and compelling advantage because it touches customers in so many different ways."

Thomas Lee • 612-673-4113

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