ST. PAUL, Minn. - Robert Stephens, the former art student who founded the Geek Squad and then sold it to mega retailer Best Buy 10 years ago, is leaving the company and moving to California.
He'll continue to be a "technology scout" for Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn.
Best Buy bought the Geek Squad in 2002 for $3 million, and built the tiny operation into a central customer service component of its consumer electronics franchise.
The Geek Squad was a local Twin Cities service in which "geeks" would drive to customers homes in signature black and white Volkswagen beetles and fix computer problems. They wore a standard uniform of a skinny black tie and white shirt.
Stephens took the title, "chief inspector." According to the company, he founded the Geek Squad in Minneapolis "with $200 and a bicycle" in 1994.
In announcing Stephens' departure, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn said "[T]he, Geek Squad brand has become the pre-eminent service brand in retail and our spearhead in building service offerings not just in computing, but in home theater and a growing array of connected devices and technologies."
On his blog, Stephens gives this reason for his departure: "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."
He goes on to say, "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."
Stephens has been a frequent guest discussing technology on Minnesota Public Radio News programs. He is also a member of the Minnesota Public Radio board of trustees. It's not clear whether he will remain in that position.
By Bill Catlin, MPR News
MPR News can be heard on 91.1 FM in the Twin Cities or online at MPRnews.org