Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My next chapter

I never really told anyone, but 10 years was always the outside number. It's as simple as this: After founding The Geek Squad 18 years ago, and acquiring Best Buy 10 years ago, I'm ready to build new companies. I never thought I would or could last this long. Hell, nobody did. I later learned that after the merger was announced, friends and advisors of mine bet each other how long before I quit or got kicked out. Most founders seem to leave within a year or so. I can say that motivated me to prove them wrong.

This has caused many of them over the years to wonder, "Why is he still there?" Others have wondered, "You're still there?". But most people, when I tell them what I do for a living, say to me, "The Geek Squad wasn't invented by Best Buy?" That makes me the happiest. That's how a deal should go down: all parties do well, the business still thriving and the deal should make sense 10 years later. Those same people are amazed to discover that what started on a single bicycle in 1994, is now a global services brand with over 20,000 employees worldwide. Now I want to take what I've learned founding a startup and combine it with the experience I gained working at a Fortune 50 company.

When I got my first computer in 1981, I thought it was the best time to be in technology. When I went to college in the 1990's, the World Wide Web was an even better time to be in technology. This last decade made technology more human, more social. And yet, this next decade will witness change 100 times greater than anything we have seen thus far, mainly due to mobile computing and wireless sensors. I cannot wait to play in this area. I've agreed to stay on as an occasional advisor to Best Buy. This lets me help where I can, and also gives me the freedom to pursue new possibilities.

Every company is in the service business now. Operations are not enough: companies must design experiences if they are going to stand out. Technology and software will be key to building those services. Every company needs a unique brand and culture, especially if it is going to innovate. That's where you'll find me: at the intersection of four key areas: service, technology, culture, and brands.

See you there.

-Robert




42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Robert,

I wish you well on the new chapter in your life. It was pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with you for a while in your time at Best Buy.

Regards,
Mark Paragi

Anonymous said...

When I first joined Geek Squad and was learning it's history I Googled your name so I could see a picture of the founder. The first picture I saw you were laying across Fabio's arms in your Geek Squad uniform.

Best of luck to you!

Stefan said...

After visiting your lectures at DLD and TES I'm very impressed about your "story" and the great things you realised.

"Make it happen!" The 3 magic words for an entrepreneur. You did this already. So I'm curious about your new ideas.

Good luck!

Best regards from Germany,
Stefan

Erik Sjogren said...

Watch out world, Robert Stephens is on the loose! It's time to blow people's minds again.

Good Luck!

SnrCIAStephens said...

Chief Inspector,

I wish you all the best in all your future endeavours.

World Domination will come and you will still be the person who inspired us all!

Regards Agent Matt Stephens

Techneek said...

"Await the signal."

Techneek said...
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Joe Z. said...

Robert,

Thanks for keeping an open door during my (multiple) jobs at this company. I greatly appreciated the fact I had you available to ask questions and run ideas by. It also helped you did the same for me in terms of throwing new ideas my way and actually getting me to take action on them.

I will always appreciate your openness and honesty, something I've always tried to strive for and something we don't have enough of around here. You'll be missed!

Good luck in your new adventure!

Zwack

Kareem Ahmed said...

Congrats, and cheers! Good luck in your next journey. Life's a grand adventure and when it's time to move on, it's time to move on.

Agent Farley said...

All the best in your future Chief Inspector Stephens, - Sleeper Agent 42674.

Mark Shteiman said...

Good Luck! Does it mean you already know what are you going to do or open for suggestions?

Bill Parmenter said...

I still reflect on my geek squad days. Three years of my life in which i learned a ton. You created a brotherhood and completly changed the reputation for "geeks everywhere.

Colin Marshall said...

Best of luck to you Robert! Thank you so much for building this amazing company. I look forward to what you do next and see you as an inspiration.

Brian Leff said...

Robert,

I still remember interviewing with you in the Washington Avenue location. The excitement and energy in the Squad were palpable, and I couldn't tell if you fed them or if they fed you. Either way, I knew that it was where I needed to be - even with a proposed title of "Minion".

Anyone could start a company with service and technology, but it took the culture you created and its branding to make the company a true success.

Thank you, and good luck with your next project!

Agent 45

Heather said...

I salute you, Chief Inspector Stephens. It's been a pleasure serving with you, sir.

Matt Jaeh said...

Robert,

It was a pleasure working for you. Geek Squad really changed my life and a difference for many. I wish you well in future endeavors.

Agent 2524

Erik said...

Mr. Stephens,

It has been a pleasure working with you for the past 7 years that I have been employed by Best Buy. I have also started a new chapter in my life as of January 27th. But I will never forget the time that myself and 3 other agents accompanied you to the ABC / Disney studios in Burbank California 3 years ago for a tour and then an afternoon presentation all about Geek Squad.

That is definitely a career highlight of mine. Its a shame to see what Best Buy has turned the Geek Squad brand in to but like you said its all about business and profitability. I have enjoyed working within the Geek Squad brand and will never forget how much I've learned and enjoyed being a Double Agent. I will never forget you! Thank you for everything! Good luck in your new chapter. :)

--Erik Lest
Agent# 3488

Agent 18354 said...

Agent 66, Await the signal.

-Agent 18354

Chris Carey said...

Wow, what a strange feeling to think that you are no longer a part of this culture, this movement, this world that you created.....
but I'm sure everyone knows you will do amazing things and we can all look forward to what those will be!!!
Thanks for all you did here and GOOD LUCK!

John said...

Robert, I wish you luck in everything, and I hope that someday you might consider whatever startup you work on, if you need someone in PA (or just remote connected), I'm interested! Email me: tagban@gmail.com

I Love my experience with Geek Squad, but I am always looking for that "next great thing" to pursue. So far I haven't found something that can pull me away, but I'm interested in new opportunities and ideas.

Best of luck if I don't hear from you. Just remember, Live long and Prosper. \\//.

Please feel free to visit my blog in the future: nerdy.it // virusinvasion.com

Peace out!

Unknown said...

Never another head geek! I have enjoyed learning about you in the workplace and such sources as CNN and other documentary sources. If one thing the world should learn it is that the only limit to the dream is the dreamer!

Best of luck though I have a feeling that you won't need it!

Colin said...

We'll miss you here in Minnesota. Keep letting us know what you're up to. You're an interesting dude.

Colin Lee

Ricktizzle said...

Robert,

You sold me. You sold me on the culture that you created, and the demeanor of your business ethics. I did a lot of "growing up" in the 5 years I spent with GS. When we moved over to Project Ollie and you showed up on the screen for our teleconference as a giant kitten, you sold me again. Half of the culture I held on to was the belief you had in your people and the ability to reach out and say hello, or help, and you would answer. I can't wait to see where you go next. Sell me again, Robert.

Sleeper Agent Garza (2230)

lilgeekygirl said...

You will be missed! Your leadership and passion for your vision is what made me more than proud to proclaim that I am a Geek Squad agent. I have worn that logo proudly for over five years and meeting you while I was an agent in Dallas was a moment in time I will never forget. Sitting across from you at dinner was nerveraking until I was fortunate enough to hear and learn aboutnyou as a person and a leader. I was not nervous for long because you never came across like some bigwig with an oversized ego. You were just one of us geeks sitting around and enjoying some good Tex-Mex food!

You are a treasure that will be missed greatly and I look forward to hearing about your ventures in the future. I wish you only the best of luck in whatever the path leads you to next. I'll miss the Geek Squad as it was when you were it's leader. I'm comforted in knowing that you will be hanging around to advise. You are truly a wonderful person, an all around great guy. God speed!

DA Krista Pieri
Badge 6216

Anonymous said...

Cya boss, await the signal.

Sleeper 6105

Anonymous said...

Where???

David Sotomayor said...

Since I joined Geek Squad in 2008 here at Puerto Rico I always been proud of the roots and how it all began. I never got to know you but I always tried to maintained does principles in witch you base your dream! It's been a great experience and I wish you the Best in you future adventure. As I always say, things happend for a reason and God has always has a great plan for you. Take Care make the force be with you Nsala Malekum!!

Supermark said...

Mr. Stephens,

Thank you for starting the company that got me my start in IT. Three and a half years ago, I was hired at Best Buy to PCHO, and was swiftly moved into the Precinct. After a year, unable to attain a full-time position in my precinct, I moved onto my first full-time job in IT, despite the fact that I went to school for sociology. Here I am, three and a half years after starting at the Geek Squad, working in the IT department for a major online retailer in the heart of Boston and loving every minute of it.

Your endeavor eventually turned what was nothing but a hobby to me into my passion and my career. Thank you for what you started that enabled me to be where I am today.

Sincerely,
Sleeper Agent 22266

Richard R Ratcliff said...

Best of luck to you Robert. You will never collect the Broadway pizza that Marshall & I owe you!
I heard that you are still driving the Morris Minor to work every day.

Anonymous said...

Fearless Leader ...

You have played a huge roll in every Agent's life. You gave us a place where we can feel proud of our inner geek. You single handedly changed the term "Geek" from an insult to a "badge" of honor. You created a family, a fraternity, a place we belong...

I've worked at the Best Buy in Covington LA for the last 4.5 years, and when I go on vacation, you can bet money that I am visiting at least 1-2 Best Buys. Why? To visit the Precinct of course. Agents are universally thrilled to see you, eager to talk shop, and proud to show off their Precinct...

Thank you for everything you have done, and I cant wait to see what you succeed at next. Just promise not to forget us, or your importance in our lives. Drop us a line every once in a while. Maybe through the Geek Squad Only Forums... Remind us you care for your first born lol

You did say Global Domination in 2012 ... How Nostradamus of you!

Respectfully,
DCI Lindsay
Agent 15040

yourchinesemate said...

Hi Robert,

My name's Yu-San, 26 from UK. Having been involved with a fledgling start up since university I recently became self employed. It was then under the pressure of girlfriend parents that I find a "real job".
Having been inspired by your story and the company which you've built I applied for the Geek Squad, having known the brand and with an alignment to it's ethos.
I got a call today from Laura at recruitment to offer me the job as Technology Support Adviser at the "flagship" store on New Street in Birmingham UK.
I am saddened for the loss of you as founder and Chief Technology Officer and I hope that BestBuy/The Geek Squad will continue to go from strength to strength, especially in the European market.
I want to wish you the best of luck in your future startups and endeavours, and even if I won't be working for you now I sincerely hope to be working for/with you in the near future!

Kindest regards,

-Yu-San

Warren Wright said...

Chief Inspector,

I'm sure that many Agents, like myself, will be watching your space and seeing what mischief you'll be getting yourself in to next.

All the best for the future, and hopefully in time we'll be meeting you at those very same crossroads.

Agent Wright (GS UK)

Ferd said...

We'll miss you Chief Inspector. Thanks so much for staring not only a great organization but a great culture. Best wishes in all you do.

DA Fernando Bartolozzi
Badge #2607

Kandi said...

I've worked for the Geek Squad for 3 and a half years. You will be missed, and you will be remembered!

JP Valere said...

I have worked for Geeksquad for almost 7 yrs, best company I've ever work for thank you and good luck.

DCI JP Valere
Badge# 13514

Daryl Orris said...

Had you Stephen or Brian done this as I proposed in 2007 Best Buy would be the undisputed leader in electronics:


January 4, 2007


Mr. Brian Dunn,
President & COO
Best Buy


Dear Brian,

RE: Integrating Best Buy on-line with Best buy in-store promotion proposal.

This promotion proposal is done to integrate the on-line shopping experience with that of the in-store shopping experience – ensuring that customers always get what they want and to open even more companies into the mix. Bring on-line computers into your stores and integrate the two for sales. In the same way that Amazon is beginning its foray into electronics Best Buy can head off their initiative by beating them at their own game. The idea is to make customers comfortable with either on-line and in-store by interconnecting the two with this in-store presence connected to a Best Buy Intranet. The upshot is that the Best Buy on-line and the Best Buy in-store can become more compatible and integrated, giving Best Buy a strategic advantage over competitors by integrating its on-line and in-store presence and by then adding other companies pricing as Amazon does – all to give Best Buy a competitive edge in electronics.

Please see the attached promotion proposal.

If you have any questions or require additional information please contact me. For information about Viking Creative concepts Inc. – see:
http://www.blendsicecream.com/viking/VCCppt.htm

Sincerely,



Daryl Orris, Ph.D.
Marketing Consultant











VIKING CREATIVE CONCEPTS INC. •11070 CEDAR HILLS BLVD. #336 • MINNETONKA MN 55305 • 952-545-2915 http://www.blendsicecream.com/viking/VCCppt.htm • daryl.orris@gmail.com

Stephen, call and I'll send you the original proposal.

michael mulcahy said...

Mr. Stephens, I would like to share with you a tale of woe stemming from my engaging GeekSquad in Alexandria, VA. Could you please send me the best email and snail mail address and telephone number to reach you personally? Thank you.

Michael.mulcahy@verizon.net
703-855-5187

Roee Adler said...

Good luck Robert. The Geek Squad inspires us every day.

Anonymous said...

Any comments on the current layoffs of the Agents?

Dean said...

Robert, it has been a pleasure working with you and watching your I Squared (Instantaneous Intelligence)impact everything you touch. Look out world - the Chief Inspector is on the lookout for the next BIG brand!

Dean Bachelor