Brian Dunn, CEO, Best Buy
What makes him powerful: Brian Dunn's own rise at Best Buy mirrors the company's relentless and bold expansion over the past several decades into different areas of technology and consumer electronics, especially mobile phones.
Dunn started out as a Best Buy sales associate in 1985, when the company only had a handful of stores. He rose steadily through the ranks, and was named executive vice president of U.S. retail in 2002, president of Best Buy's North American retail operations in 2004, and president and COO of the company in 2006. During his tenure Best Buy has expanded into personal computers, flat-screen TVs and now cell phones. And today, it's clear that Dunn and Best Buy have no plans of slowing down the company's mobile retail expansion.
When he took the reins at the end of June, Dunn said that Best Buy planned to open 40 stand-alone Best Buy Mobile stores this fiscal year, and will look quintuple its share of the U.S. mobile phone market to 15 percent.
So far, the company has secured its place as a trusted retail partner of the wireless industry with key product launches, including the Palm Pre and the Nokia Booklet 3G. However, Best Buy also has seen other retailers, including Wal-Mart, move aggressively into the mobile retail arena. With that in mind, it appears Dunn and Best Buy have decided to try and establish Best Buy as a valued source of information as customers decide what phone to buy. For example, the company recently launched a new website called mIQ. The free service allows users to organize their contact lists and back up their photos, and works on more than 200 phones, including BlackBerry, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile.
Thus, Dunn appears willing to evolve Best Buy from a mere retailer and into a cog in the wireless marketplace. If the company keeps expanding and enhancing its mobile retail presence, the big-box chain may indeed become one of the most trusted retail brands in mobile. --Phil