Best Buy Hires Starbucks CIO to Lead Digital Efforts

A couple of days after Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens left Best Buy, the consumer electronics giant announced that it has hired Starbucks Chief Information Officer Stephen Gillett to lead its digital efforts.

Richfield-based Best Buy Company, Inc., announced Friday that it has hired Starbucks Chief Information Officer Stephen Gillett to oversee its digital operations.

Starting March 14, Gillett will be the president of Best Buy's digital and global business services division and an executive vice president at the company.

In this newly created position, Gillett will oversee Best Buy's e-commerce businesses and IT operations. He will also be in charge of Best Buy's global digital strategy, digital marketing efforts, entertainment offerings, and finding new ways to “make technology a bigger part of the customer experience while enhancing operations and processes,” the company said. He will report directly to CEO Brian Dunn.

The announcement came just two days after Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens stepped down as chief technology officer of Best Buy. Stephens, who founded Geek Squad 18 years ago, has served in that role since 2010.

In addition to his CIO responsibilities at Starbucks, Gillett led the company's digital ventures business unit. According to a Star Tribune report, he 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. The content included free access to Wall Street Journal and New York Times subscriptions, exclusive iTunes music downloads, and documentaries.

“Through his transformation work at Starbucks, Stephen has shown the ability to use digital capabilities to deepen relationships with customers across a wide demographic range,” Dunn said in a statement. “Best Buy customers and the entire Best Buy team will benefit from his innovative approaches to bring together retailing and digital technology.”

Before joining Starbucks, Gillett was chief information officer for Corbis, a digital media company owned by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. In that role, he oversaw Corbis' e-commerce and multimedia licensing business. Prior to Corbis, Gillett spent nearly a decade in Silicon Valley, holding senior technology positions with Yahoo! and CNET Networks.

Best Buy is Minnesota's third-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $50.3 billion for the fiscal year that ended in February 2011; financial results for the most recent fiscal year will be reported later this month.