All of a Sudden, Best Buy Executive Resigns - Did he See the Handwriting on the Wall?

4798"The Best Buy model for decades," Stephen Gillett told me, "was that if Megan's going to leave her house and drive to buy a new TV we need to get her to drive past Circuit City and CompUSA. Now we're competing with 'Megan doesn't have to leave her house'."
If anyone could win that competition, it's Stephen Gillett, the digital wizard who joined Best Buy nine months ago.  Gillett was part of the team that led the Starbucks turnaround, an in an interview I did with him last month, it was clear that he was thinking deeply and smartly about the challenges that Best Buy faces, and how the company might reposition itself.  "With things like home appliances, people are going to want the things we offer, for example, the delivery to service and install. Or Geek Squad: thousands of people sitting in homes, doing installations, across all the platforms," he told me.  "If you've got a Kindle, a Samsung television, an Android phone, good luck getting service for that at Amazon."  

"If Best Buy still has folks like Stephen Gillett," I told myself, "they've still got a fighting chance."  

Then he left.  

Yesterday news came that Gillett was stepping down in order to move to Symantec as COO.  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.  Reporting by the Minneapolis Star Tribute (Best Buy is headquartered in Minneapolis) suggests that it may simply be the fallout from internal politics.  Hubert Joly took over as CEO a few months ago, and of course, he's going to have his own people and his own vision for the firm.  Nonetheless, as one retail analyst told the Strib, "it looks bad for Best Buy".  The resignation seems to have taken the company by surprise.

Source: The Daily Beast | Megan McArdle 
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