Starbucks CIO Leaves Coffee Giant for Best Buy

In his newly created position, 36-year-old Stephen Gillett will lead Best Buy's e-commerce businesses, IT and global shared services divisions.

College athlete, avid gamer and MBA graduate Stephen Gillett is leaving Starbucks to head up Best Buy's digital and global business services division. The 36-year-old former Starbucks CIO will start his new role at Best Buy effective March 14.

"I am very excited and pleased to be joining Best Buy. Life-long customer and thrilled to be a part of the team," Gillett tweeted this morning.

Gillett, whose official title is executive vice president and president, Best Buy digital and global business services, will report to company CEO Brian Dunn.

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"Stephen has that rare combination of business leadership skills, retail transformation experience, and digital and technological acumen -- he is uniquely positioned to make an immediate difference at Best Buy," Dunn said in a statement.

In his newly created position, Gillett will lead the company's e-commerce businesses, IT, and global shared services divisions. He's charged with speeding the growth of Best Buy by improving the company's global digital strategy, digital marketing, entertainment offerings, multi-channel capabilities and business development.

Before joining Best Buy, Gillett was CIO and executive vice president of digital ventures at Starbucks. In that role he earned a number of industry accolades. He was named to Fortune's "Executive Dream Team" as one of only two CIOs among the 25 executives recognized in 2011. Fortune also included him in its "40 Under 40" list last year, and he received the Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship in 2010.

Gillett, who has ranked among the top guild masters in World of Warcraft, has credited his gaming skills with helping him to land a senior engineering position at Yahoo. After stints at Yahoo and CNET Networks, Gillett was CIO at Corbis, a digital media company owned by Bill Gates, before joining Starbucks in 2008.

Gillett earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon, where he played football with the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Division 1 conference. He received his MBA from San Francisco State University. [Also see: "Should tech pros get an MBA?")

News of Gillett joining Best Buy comes on the heels of a high-profile tech departure at the Minneapolis retailer. Earlier this week, Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad and Best Buy's CTO, announced that he's leaving the company. CEO Dunn commented on Stephens' departure in a March 7 memo on the company's website:

"I knew it was only a matter of time before his curiosity and his desire to create something new would lead him to look outside the walls of Best Buy. And that time has come. As of today, Robert is stepping away from his full-time duties as our CTO, with plans to relocate to California. It pleases me to report, however, that while Robert will no longer be an employee of Best Buy, he'll continue to work for the enterprise on a handful of critical special projects."

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her email address is

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This story, "Starbucks CIO Leaves Coffee Giant for Best Buy" was originally published by Network World.


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