Best Buy Hires New Communications Chief

Matthew Furman replaces Paula Prahl, who left Best Buy in December to join Maple Grove-based Data Recognition Corporation.

Richfield-based Best Buy Company, Inc., which has made headlines many times in recent weeks amid a scandal involving its ex-CEO, said late last week that it has hired a new communications chief.

Matthew Furman will serve as the electronics retailer’s senior vice president of communications and public affairs—a position that he’ll assume on June 22. In that role, he’ll oversee Best Buy’s employee communications, public relations, executive communications, government affairs, corporate responsibility, and community relations. Furman will report directly to interim CEO G. “Mike” Mikan.

Furman replaces Paula Prahl, who left Best Buy in December to become senior vice president of strategy and marketing for Maple Grove-based Data Recognition Corporation.

“It’s time to change the story about Best Buy. Time to help employees, shareholders, partners, and customers understand that this company’s leadership knows what needs to be done to come out of this turnaround well equipped to win in the evolving marketplace,” Furman said in a statement. “I’m ready to get to work with Mike and the rest of the leadership team to do just that.”

Furman comes to Best Buy from Mount Olive, New Jersey-based Mars Chocolate, where he serves as vice president of corporate affairs. Before joining Mars, he led corporate communications for Mountain View, California-based Google. He also previously served as vice president of brand and corporate communications for data aggregation company ChoicePoint, which was based in Alpharetta, Georgia, and acquired in 2008.

“His decision to join the Best Buy team shows that highly talented individuals who take a good look at our company are attracted by our determination to succeed and openness to fresh ideas,” Mikan said in a statement. “In this critical leadership position, Matt will ensure that Best Buy’s story—where it’s been, where it intends to go, and how it’s going to get there—is told with consistency, clarity, and passion, and that it is heard by our many audiences, both within the company and outside it.”

Furman’s appointment follows many recent Best Buy announcements about personnel changes. Chief among them: Former CEO Brian Dunn abruptly resigned in April amid an investigation into allegations that he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a female employee—allegations that were later confirmed by a law firm hired by Best Buy. In the wake of that investigation, the company announced earlier this month that founder Richard Schulze will step down in June from his role as chairman of the board.

Numerous other Best Buy executives have also left the company in recent weeks. The most recent departure was Ryan Robinson, chief financial officer (CFO) for Best Buy’s U.S. operations, who left Friday to become CFO of MedExpress, a West Virginia-based operator of urgent care centers.

Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens; Chief Marketing Officer Barry Judge; and Dave Deno, CFO of Best Buy’s international division and president of its Asia region, also left the company earlier this year.

Meanwhile, in March, the company hired former Starbucks executive Stephen Gillett to serve as president of Best Buy’s digital and global business services division and an executive vice president at the company—and the Star Tribune reported that Gillett began overseeing Best Buy’s marketing efforts earlier this month following Judge’s departure.

Best Buy is Minnesota’s third-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $50.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended March 3.

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