Best Buy will send its Geek Squad into the cloud, after purchasing Boston-based mindSHIFT Technologies in a deal valued at $167 million.
MindSHIFT provides online applications and data center services for small to medium-sized businesses, boasting over 5,400 clients across the U.S., and with the purchase, Best Buy plans to extend its reach into the business world, including the legal, healthcare, financial, nonprofit, and education markets.
With its ubiquitous brick-and-mortar stores — and its Geek Squad driving Volkswagon Bugs from IT issue to IT issue — Best Buy believes it’s well positioned to offer cloud computing services to businesses with neither the time nor the resources to support their own IT infrastructure.
“There’s no question that acquiring the skills, capabilities and clients of mindSHIFT has the potential to help expand Best Buy’s global services capabilities in the vast small and mid-sized business market,” said George Sherman, senior vice president of Best Buy Services, said in a canned statement.
The purchase is a way of competing with Amazon’s Web Services and other cloud services that offer applications and infrastructure resources via the net. With its cloudSHIFT hosted desktops, mindSHIFT providers business users with access to standard applications like Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, PDFCreator, and Adobe Acrobat Reader, but it also provides good old-fashioned managed hosting services, helping businesses run websites and other applications in its data centers. According to Best Buy, the Boston-based mindSHIFT oversees more than 25,000 hosted desktops in “key markets” across the country.
This isn’t the first time Best Buy has moved into the online space. In 2008, it bought the Napster brand to help it compete in the music download market, only to sell it to Rhapsody in early October of 2011.
Neither Best Buy nor mindSHIFT was immediately available for direct comment. But in a press release, Best Buy said that like The Geek Squad after it was purchased in 2002, mindSHIFT will continue operating under its current name, with its current management.