Best Buy’s Patel Left for Venture Capital Firm

Kal Patel recently left his executive posts at Best Buy to become a partner at VantagePoint Capital Partners-where he will help expand global investments by the venture capital firm and lead initiatives involving "strategic partners," including Best Buy.

A Best Buy executive who helped fuel innovation at the company-often through building relationships with venture capitalists and tech start-ups-has ended his eight-year career at the company to join an investment fund focused on energy and efficiency.

Kal Patel left Richfield-based Best Buy earlier this month to join San Bruno, California-based VantagePoint Capital Partners as a partner. He'll live in the United Kingdom and divide his time between an office there and the headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Patel said in a Thursday phone interview that his last day at Best Buy was June 3, and he's made a “very smooth transition” into his new position. He said that he made the move-which he's been planning since January-for personal reasons, and in large part because he wanted to return with his family to the U.K., where he lived before his career brought him to the United States about a decade ago.

Patel joined Best Buy in 2003 as executive vice president of strategy. In 2007, he took on the role of executive vice president of emerging business.

In June 2008, he was appointed managing partner of Best Buy Capital, and in March 2010, he was named president of the company's Asia operations-a role in which he is credited for helping lead Best Buy's international growth, especially its retail presence in China.

“We value the significant contribution he made to our company since joining us. . . . We appreciate Kal's interest in returning with his family to the U.K., and wish him our very best as he enters a new chapter in his career,” Best Buy wrote in an e-mailed statement.

While at Best Buy, Patel-who in 2010 was recognized as one of Fast Company's most creative people-built relationships with venture capitalists and tech start-ups in California and Asia in order to discover new innovations and bring them to Best Buy's shelves as quickly as possible.

Now, he's joined a company that is headquartered in Silicon Valley and maintains offices in Hong Kong and Beijing, but he will spend a significant amount of his time in Europe to expand the fund's investments in companies there.

Patel said that while serving as executive vice president of emerging business at Best Buy, he learned “the consumer angle”-recognizing how large companies interact with start-ups in order to ultimately accelerate their own agendas. “I'm just going to do the same thing, but from the other side,” he said.

In fact, he will also oversee VantagePoint Capital Partners' initiatives involving “strategic partners,” which comprise large corporations-including Best Buy-that are instrumental in the commercialization of new technologies from emerging companies.

Patel said that his former responsibilities at Best Buy have been reallocated in various ways. For example, David Deno, chief financial officer of the company's international division, will lead Best Buy's Asia operations. Patel described Deno as “one of my best friends” and said that the two worked in tandem for the past few months to ensure a smooth transition.

VantagePoint Capital Partners is a global investment fund with more than $4.5 billion in committed capital and active investments in more than 70 companies, including Minneapolis-based Grocery Shopping Network. The fund focuses on what it describes as “transformative companies”-those with innovative technologies for the cleantech, information technology, and health care industries.