Geek of the Week: Starbucks digital chief Stephen Gillett

Stephen Gillett, Starbucks CIO and EVP of digital ventures. (Annie Laurie Malarkey photo)

In its first four months, our Geek of the Week feature has introduced GeekWire readers to an amazing collection of people, and today we’re pleased to add Stephen Gillett to the group.

As Starbucks’ chief information officer and executive vice president, he oversees all of the company’s digital business activities — including the Starbucks Digital Network that was launched last year in conjunction with the rollout of free wifi across the Starbucks chain.

Gillett is a veteran of companies including Corbis, Yahoo, CNet Networks and Sun Microsystems, but his geek cred goes considerably further than that, as you can tell from his answers to our questionnaire below — and the World of Warcraft goblet in his hand in the picture above.

Name: Stephen Gillett

Job, hobby and/or other geeky pursuit: cio & evp, digital ventures at Starbucks.

Strange Fact: Was named by WIRED magazine as one of the top guild masters in World of Warcraft.

Coolest thing about what you do: Get to figure out the best way to use technology and digital to make for a fantastic partner (employee) and customer experience for a global retail brand.

What’s next for Starbucks’ digital ventures? We have done some great work with free wifi, the in-store Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo!, as well as consumer apps experience. Always looking at great experiences for mobility and payments.

What does it mean to you to be a geek? Be who you are, be confident and humble and always look for the opportunities to be a student.

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life: Be a deep part of the non-work things in your life. Family. Community. Faith-based venues. Do your best and make an effort. In the end, they are what really matters.

Mac, Windows or Linux? Windows desktop, Mac Laptop and Google Apps for personal email.

Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko? Picard all the way, especially like when the borg turned him into Locutus.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time Machine with a hint of the Sword of Damocles.

Mocha, latte, drip or Frappucino? Latte, non-fat skim milk and a madeleine

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would use it to explore the world of contextual retail concepts, the convergence of payments, loyalty, location and game mechanics. Would need to quickly raise a second round of funding.

I once waited in line for: The expansion pack for World of Warcraft.

Your geek role models (And why?): Mike Morhaime, founder and CEO of Blizzard entertainment. Love the innovation, the loyalty and the passion for a quality gaming experience across all franchises.

Greatest Game In History: Tie between Ultima Online and World of Warcraft.

Best Gadget Ever: The original Blackberry 850 circa 1999. There was nothing like it at the time.

First computer: My parents had a 1982 IBM PCjr for us with expanded memory!

Current phone: IPHONE 4 and Android Samsung Infuse

Favorite app: The Starbucks mobile app of course with mobile payments, wow!

Favorite hangout: Starbucks, Mercer Island, WA

Favorite cause: Boys and Girls Club of King County. Great mission for the kids in our Seattle area and nationwide.

Most important technology of 2011: Cloud Computing Permeation.

Most important technology of 2015: Consumerization of IT in 2011, will become the ITiszation of the Consumer fully by 2015.

Blog: http://www.theguildcio.com

Twitter: @stephengillett 


Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive for more.

Does someone you know deserve this distinguished honor? Send nominations to tips@geekwire.com.

[Geek of the Week photography by Annie Laurie Malarkey, annielaurie@geekwire.com.]

  • Asparish

    Awesome leader for us geeks. But he did play college football -1 geek point but it was for the Oregon Ducks +1 geek point. It’s a wash.

  • Asparish

    Awesome leader for us geeks. But he did play college football -1 geek point but it was for the Oregon Ducks +1 geek point. It’s a wash.

  • Dan Levitan

    I’ve had the incredible privilege to be around Starbucks for 20 years. From my point of view, Stephen is the first Geek to elevate the technology function from a support/ reporting role to a vital, core business function. He has the total confidence of senior leadership and he is able to put himself and his organization in the shoes of the operators. It’s inspiring to watch technology become so intertwined with how a retailer sells coffee. Congrats to Stephen and his entire team.

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the comment Dan. I certainly don’t have the insights into Starbucks that you do, but from an outsider’s perspective Starbucks appears to be undergoing a fascinating transformation into a consumer tech company. We see it happening, and we’re committed to covering it here at GeekWire.