Feeds

Best Buy swallows Speakeasy whole

Last bastion of independence, ISP gets borged

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Best Buy, the giant electronics retailer known for interminable waits to get time with a salesperson, is acquiring Speakeasy, an ISP popular with the techno-elite for its flexibility and attentive customer service. The companies are promising Speakeasy will remain independent, but some of the ISP's customers are ruing the union.

Best Buy plans to fold Speakeasy's business-class DSL and voice over IP services into Best Buy for Business, a unit that aims to provide comprehensive service to small businesses. The retailer is paying about $97m for the ISP, or about 1.2 times Speakeasy's 2006 revenue.

Founded in 1994 as an internet cafe in Seattle, Speakeasy has flourished into a provider of DSL and VOIP with service in all 48 contiguous states. With service representatives known for their ability to advise users of Linux gateways and FreeBSD boxes, the ISP was considered a refreshing alternative to more limited service delivered by Comcast, AT&T and their ilk. Speakeasy also stood out for its lack of bandwidth caps and the tolerance it showed to customers who shared their connections with neighbors.

Today's announcement raises the question: Can Speakeasy's reputation for attentiveness and tech saviness survive in a Fortune 100 company better known for quantity than quality? Despite an email to Speakeasy subscribers from the company's CEO, promising there would be no changes, bloggers are decidedly skeptical.

"I chose Speakeasy eight years ago because they openly welcomed and supported Linux," someone at The Command Line wrote. "Best Buy’s track record with Windows based PC support is abysmal, let alone expecting them to grok the needs of a customer like me." The Consumerist also weighed in, writing: "Hm, how long will it take BBB to turn Speakeasy, which boasts very high customer satisfaction and loyalty levels, into shit?"

To be fair, Best Buy's sprawling, one-size-fits-all approach is no different from that of competitors such as Circuit City. Both often provide the lowest prices among brick-and-mortar retailers for hard drives, video cameras and other electronics. But the low rates come at a price, mainly in the long waits it often takes to find an available sales person and merchandise that frequently is not in stock. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.