The Dire Straits Of Publicly Traded Tech In Minnesota [Part 1]

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WTFYou’ll hear a lot about the ‘Fortune 500′ in Minnesota wherever you go, but aside from #72 Best Buy (which has “turned around” by losing 6 billion dollars in value since 2010) there are are no actual tech companies on that current list of 17 headquartered here.

Looking beyond that roster for our state’s top tech firms — the true  leaders, the anchors of industry, the globally competitive — what do we have here?

In seeking answers to the above, an alarming trend has surfaced around the class of publicly traded tech firms in Minnesota:

The picture is not just a changing landscape, it’s rapidly a disappearing one.

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Meet The Women Who Saved Best Buy

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by Jen Wieczner , Fortune

“No matter how much your family got on your nerves last Thanksgiving, Best Buy executives probably had a more stressful holiday than you did.

By the time Turkey Day 2014 arrived, the company had spent two years pursuing a sweeping, difficult turnaround strategy, and with the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, when Best Buy typically earns a third of its annual revenue, the stakes were stratospherically high.”

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Best Buy Makes Apple Watch Distribution Deal

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By Daisuke Wakabayashi, Wall Street Journal

“One month after Apple Inc. started selling Apple Watch at its own stores, the company said it will bring the device to Best Buy stores in August.

Apple said its smartwatch will be available at more than 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S., expanding to over 300 outlets before the holiday shopping season. Best Buy will be the first major U.S. retailer beside Apple to sell the device.”

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How Best Buy’s Geek Squad Is Reinvesting In STEM

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Via News Release

“MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Best Buy’s Geek Squad today announced the launch of the ninth Geek Squad Academy summer program. This grassroots tech experience inspires under-served teens to consider technology careers and help address the nation’s widely-anticipated professional labor shortage.”

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Best Buy Geek Squad Leads ‘Hour of Code’ Events For Teens

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Via News Release

“The room at the Arlington Hills Community Center library in St. Paul, Minnesota, was silent Wednesday while teens used tablets to learn computer coding on the popular game Angry Birds.

Determined fingers dragged and dropped parts of code, and strategically placed them in the right order to move on to next level.

“I completed puzzle eight!” one girl yelled out after finishing a tough round of code. More than 3,000 schools and libraries across the country celebrated Teen Tech Week, engaging in activities such as the coding game, provided by the nonprofit Code.org.”

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Best Buy is opening a tech office in Seattle

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By Kavita Kumar, Star Tribune

Best Buy is expanding into Amazon’s home turf.

The Richfield-based electronics chain is planning to open a technology development center in Seattle later this spring. The office, which will be focused on bolstering the retailer’s e-commerce and mobile platforms, will employ more than 50 engineers, product managers and developers. The company said it could be the home base for more than 100 employees down the road.”

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BestBuy.com tanks twice on Black Friday

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By Kavita Kumar, Star Tribune

“It was not the Black Friday headline Best Buy was hoping for.  The Richfield-based electronics chain stumbled on one of the biggest shopping days of the year with its website going down twice in one day.  Best Buy attributed the issue to “record levels of website traffic” that overwhelmed its site.”

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Coming this holiday to Best Buy and Target: The internet of things

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By Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOm

Best Buy is creating new in-store Connected Home departments that should roll out to more than 400 stores by Thanksgiving (yes, there’s also a website). The departments will contain more than 100 smart home products, including the Peq hub, Nest and Honeywell thermostats, Dropcam cameras, Hue lights and many other brands large and small. There will be a mix of one-off devices and managed services from local ISPs or ADT, as well as more DIY-but-still-managed services such as Peq that come with a fee.”

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Best Buy steps on to China’s e-commerce playing field

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By Frank Tong, Internet Retailer

“Jiangsu Five Star Appliance Co., the China subsidiary of U.S. consumer electronics chain Best Buy Co. Inc., has begun selling online.

Five Star, as it’s widely known, launched last month its own e-commerce site,  5star.cn, and plans to sell through a variety of online channels. The company says it plans to open web stores on popular Chinese online marketplace such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall.com and Amazon.cn, the China site of Amazon.com Inc.”

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Connected-car startup spun out of Best Buy raises $8M

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By Katharine Grayson, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal

“A Best Buy Co. Inc. spin-off that sells a car-monitoring device and accompanying app has raised $8 million in venture capital.

Startup Zubie Inc. makes a small device that plugs into a car’s diagnostics system. The product collects data and wirelessly transmits it to a smartphone app, allowing consumers to track a car’s location, maintenance problems, driving patterns and other information.”

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