Target Corp. is looking to hire 20 engineers and product managers in Silicon Valley to join a technology-based start-up called “Goldfish,” but it’s still fairly mysterious as to what the new project is all about.
“We are ambitious and bent on disrupting the way people shop,” said one of the job postings.
The project will be housed out of the Minneapolis-based retailer’s tech office in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Goldfish is the brainchild of West Stringfellow, who joined Target last year as one of three entrepreneurs in residence who were charged with bringing out-of-the-box ideas to help push Target’s innovation agenda. Target liked him so much that it ended up promoting Stringfellow in December to the more permanent position of vice president of internal innovation and operations.
When he sat down with the Star Tribune in October, Stringfellow said he was working on a couple of ideas for new businesses that could be folded into Target or be spun off as their own companies. He gave those projects code names — one was “goldfish” and the other “bling.” His work space was littered with physical mascots of those projects, stuffed goldfish and gold chains.
“It will make sense in the future,” he said then. “I’m being cryptic because I can’t talk about it yet.”
Fast forward several months and Target is still being discreet about what Goldfish is about. A Target spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed that the retailer was hiring for the project.
“At this point the project and what it is, is still confidential,” said Jenna Reck, the spokeswoman.
The job postings note that Goldfish is a wholly owned subsidiary of Target.
Stringfellow, who is also overseeing Target’s upcoming partnership with start-up accelerator Techstars, will continue to work out of the Minneapolis office while Goldfish will be housed in Sunnyvale. But a small group of people who have been working on the project from Minneapolis will be moving out to California, Reck said.
About 60 people currently work in the Sunnyvale office, which Target opened in 2014 to get closer to the heart of Silicon Valley where many engineers and other tech-oriented workers already live. Target also has another office about an hour away in San Francisco.
Meanwhile in Boston, another member of Target’s first entrepreneur-in-residence program has set up a lab to think up ideas about the future of food. In January, Target opened the Food + Future coLAB in partnership with MIT’s Media Lab and the design firm Ideo. University students have used that space to brainstorm ideas for new start-ups around how food is grown, bought and consumed. Target executives will then vet the ideas to see if there are some that make sense for the retailer to launch.
Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113