Best Buy Has Lost The 'Single Most Important Executive In The Entire Company'

Best Buy's digital savior has left.

Stephen Gillett, former digital chief at the struggling retailer, was a high-profile hire when he was whisked away from his position as the CIO of Starbucks. He now joins Symantec as COO.

How big of a loss is it for Best Buy?

When he joined, he was considered a "godsend" by demoralized employees, who even nicknamed him "Neo" after the character in The Matrix.

"Best Buy essentially waved goodbye to the single most important executive in the entire company," Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions told us. "Both from the standpoint on what he was overseeing and the importance of those businesses to Best Buy’s survival in a world of digital stores."

"It's a huge blow to the company, not just because they're losing his talents, but because of what it suggests about the company's prospects," wrote Megan McArdle at The Daily Beast.

Gillett's move "looks bad for Best Buy" because of the breadth of responsibilities he had, Janney Capital Management retail analyst David Strasser told the Star-Tribune.

And there's much speculation as to why Gillett headed for the door.

"Well, it sounds simplistic to say this, but creative people in digital need things, they need to be surrounded with more creative people and tools," said Sozzi. "Both of those require money, the type of money that the new CEO is trying to tighten up on and in turn, spread to the stores and within price."

Also, Gillett was a hire from the old regime. Ex-CEO Brian Dunn was the one who took him on, not current chief Hubert Joly.

"You have to wonder what is going on at the very core of the executive suite," said Sozzi.

A Best Buy spokesperson insisted to the Star-Tribune that Gillett left because he got an offer for a "dream job" he couldn't refuse.

"I will miss the wonderful teams at Best Buy,"  Gillett tweeted . "Our time together was short, but our friendships and experiences lifelong. Thank you."



More From Business Insider
Search