Best Buy: Fire Hubert Joly, Then Partner With Amazon

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I will not let up on Best Buy (BBY) until its board of directors rises above and does what's right for investors.

Forget the dog and pony sideshow. Do something meaningful now, if nothing else, to raise the price Richard Schulze must pay to take Best Buy private, assuming he can get it done.

Best Buy actually has the tools in place to innovate and get itself out of this mess. Its board simply has to pull its collective head out and act because, ultimately, it has complete control over the situation.

Keeping Best Buy alive has very little to do with what we think we know about retail. That label -- "retail" -- exists only because it makes it easy for us to define the practice of peddling stuff to consumers. If you have anything that even resembles a retail mindset, Best Buy should not be the place for you.

I have already established what a horrible move Best Buy made when it said vive la Joly and hired a SWOT analysis consultant as CEO.

Step one in righting the ship: Fire Joly immediately and then be honest: The Best Buy board should tell investors it overpaid millions for what wasn't even a very good PowerPoint presentation by Joly at the company's recent investor day.

Investors appreciate that type of honesty. Ask Patrick Doyle at Domino's Pizza ( DPZ) about how to execute a tech turnaround in retail. The guy is absolutely not a loser CEO.

Step two: Name Stephen Gillett, currently a Best Buy President, CEO. Give him free reign to spend the dollars -- like Marissa Mayer has at Yahoo! ( YHOO) -- to assemble a tech and marketing team for the ages at the company. He should be able to pick through current Best Buy staffers and keep only those willing to purge all scent of old-school retail from their blood.

Step three: Stop this fantasy of competition with Amazon.com ( AMZN). Jeff Bezos handed Best Buy its buttocks about a decade ago. Best Buy never actually fought the battle, but it was lost.

Five, 10 years ago the answer might have been to beef up your digital presence, make stores smaller and focus on customer service. That's not the answer now. You're too far behind. That approach absolutely cannot work.

Step four: Seek some sort of partnership with Amazon. Because they're sharp, Amazon and Facebook ( FB) are working together.

A good story on the broad topic from Consumer Affairs ends like this: ... new services by Amazon and Facebook seem to be just the beginning in social networking sites, online retailers and brick-and-mortars melding together to make it easier for the consumer to shop, share and ship gifts all at the same time.

Yes, the "melding together." Best Buy cannot live in a world where the only melding happens between social networks and online/brick-and-mortar retailers other than itself.

If Hubert Joly approaches executives at Amazon.com he might get laughed off of the telephone. And, undoubtedly, he would still be using a landline. If Gillett or Best Buy E-Commerce President Scott Durchslag calls, Skypes or emails, expect Amazon to take the meeting.

So what should Best Buy do once it gets in front of Amazon? That's the part that likely makes the BBY board and cats like Joly uncomfortable. Takes them out of their element. In fact, there are likely some people in the world who simply cannot get their head around the broad idea I propose -- go to the company that kicked your butt, admit defeat and partner.

Best Buy still has some worth, even to Amazon.

The innovation -- what to do here -- belongs in another, longer article. But, think about initiatives such as Amazon Locker or Amazon Fresh. Think about Amazon adding a solid customer service option to some of the things it sells and using Best Buy's massive brick-and-mortar footprint to execute it.

Just examples there (though the makings of good ones I reckon), but think bigger picture. It's something lots of folks, particularly the ones making so many bad decisions at Best Buy, cannot seem to do. The company's board better start because, at the current rate, no matter what happens in the public-private tussle, things do not look like they'll end well.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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