Geek Squad founder leaving Best Buy

by Nickalas Tabbert

The founder of Geek Squad announced Wednesday he is leaving the company after 18 years to start something new

Robert Stephens, 42, started the company in Minneapolis in 1994 to offer computing assistance, The Pioneer Press said. 

Stephens had the idea that pulling up on his bike dressed like a "geek" would inspire confidence in his clients for his one-man computer fix-it business, the article said.

"It's as simple as this," he wrote on his blog.  "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."

Stephens said in an MPR article every company needs a unique brand and culture if it is going to innovate.

"That's is where you will find me: at the intersection of four key areas: service, technology, culture and brands," he said.

Best Buy bought the Geek Squad in 2002 for $3 million and built  it into a central customer service component of its consumer electronic franchise, MPR said.  Stephens said the service accounted for the bulk of Best Buy's $3.4 billion in service revenue.

There are now more than 20,000 Geek Squad employees – called "agents" – working for the retailer worldwide, the Press said.

"Best Buy was not great at service and we knew we had to get better, fast," Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn said on his blog.  He said Stephens was "a born entrepreneur, and that it was only a matter of time before his curiosity and his desire to create something new would lead him away to look outside the walls of Best Buy."

Stephens will continue to advise Best Buy on a few projects and look for strategic opportunities for the Richfield-based retailer, Dunn said.

The Geek Squad built its identity around the image of a team of black-and-white-attired "geeks" in clip-on ties, driving to the rescue in black-and-white Volkswagen Beetles, WCCO said.

The announcement came on the same day that Apple released its newest iPad tablet computer.  Stephens joked on Twitter that he will "assume the role of iPad3."