GameStop and Loopring are both working on strikingly similar confidential NFT projects and the evidence towards a partnership between the giants is glaring.

GMEdd.com first unearthed the existence of GameStop’s Official NFT project in May 2021 upon discovering a website that didn’t detail much besides a potential slogan for the project, and ever since then investors have speculated what GameStop NFT entails.

Power to the players. Power to the creators. Power to the collectors.

GameStop’s NFT landing page remains unchanged since the May posting.

In June, GMEdd.com covered GameStop’s hiring of Jordan Holberg, an eccentric geek, gamer, decentralist, and now GameStop’s Principal Engineer. We recommend reading that piece before this one, if you haven’t already.

“As Principal Engineer for GameStop,  and … with my analog childhood and digital adolescence, I am the bridge between the old and the new — traditional “legacy” ecommerce and the next generation of blockchain.”

Since the RC Ventures settlement with GameStop, the brick-and-mortar focused retailer has hired at least a dozen individuals in the pursuit of establishing an “NFTeam,” tasked with envisioning a future where traditional e-commerce is bridged with blockchain.

GMEdd’s full tech hire sheet can be seen on our Report and Models page.

Some NFTeam members are publicly-known on LinkedIn, but it is easy to assume that the division does not end here.

What is the company building?

All Roads Point to Finestone

At the center of this crypto task force is Matthew Finestone, CFA, who was granted the title Head of Blockchain at GameStop in April 2021, departing his position as Head of Business for Loopring.

LinkedIn indicates Matthew Finestone transitioned from Loopring to GameStop in April 2021.

Matthew Finestone was one of Loopring’s first employees, and largely worked to advocate for the company’s revolutionary technology, making his departure all the more mysterious.

When Finestone left his position at Loopring, he signed off with a resignation letter titled, “Thank you, Loopring,” still readable on Medium.

Finestone’s departure letter was posted on April 5th 2021.

This letter details Finestone’s years of commitment to Loopring, and states that it has been his life’s work.

Finestone believes that it is hard to have a work-life balance in the world of crypto, and that it all blends together when your passion is your job and your job is your passion.

Most interestingly, Finestone states that he views his next project as a once-in-a-lifetime, perfect-timing, far-reaching opportunity/challenge that he needs to pursue for its own sake, and for his own personal development.

Finestone details his reasons for departure.

Finestone also states that he will not only remain an advisor for Loopring, but he still owns equity in Loopring Technology Limited, and looks forward to remaining a part of the company’s bright future.

Once at GameStop, Finestone began sharing hints that his new gig will bring tens of millions onto Ethereum, through a “stealth startup unit” within a large public corporation.

Finestone seems as enthusiastic about his new project as his last.

What is Loopring? What’s the company building? Grab some popcorn and buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.

Ring Ring Ring Ring, Bananaphone

Loopring is a zkRollup Layer 2 protocol on Ethereum that describes itself as “an open-sourced, audited, and non-custodial exchange protocol.” It aims to allow anyone to build non-custodial, order book-based exchanges on Ethereum by leveraging zero-knowledge proofs.

Now, an explanation for all us smooth brains… What you need to know is that Loopring is aiming to leverage blockchain to become the leading user-facing financial services application in the world. Revolutionizing trading, investing, payments, ‘banking’, to become the gateway of choice for users to experience the parallel financial system of Ethereum — in all its glory and security.

GameStop’s hire of Jordan Holberg, who previously founded Hodlberg Financial, a project that would allow their users and traders to easily interact with a wider range of decentralized, authenticated applications without compromising any privacy, is starting to make sense.

Matthew Finestone discussed his work with Loopring in March of 2021.

Matthew Finestone himself states that Loopring is striving to build global, consumer-grade financial applications. Their focus is, overall, delighting users. Who does this remind you of?

The Founder’s Quarters

On August 29th, 2021, Loopring founder Daniel Wang was invited to participate in EDCON 2021 and gave a speech on the theme of “Counterfactual Wallet & NFTs on Loopring”.

Loopring was founded by Daniel Wang, a software engineer based in China who previously worked at internet companies including JD.com and Google.

At EDCON 2021, Daniel Wang stated that Loopring has no plans to launch their own marketplace, but the company is working with a premium owner to make sure they can launch theirs.

Some people ask me a question whether Loopring will launch our own marketplace. The answer is no. We don’t have a plan to launch our own NFT marketplace, but we are working with a premium owner to make sure they can launch their marketplace successfully and very soon, probably in Q4 and with a lot of other stuff.

The transcript was posted on Medium.com.

Every 3 months, Loopring releases a Quarterly Update, where the team details progress towards major product launches and what to expect in the months ahead.

With only days until the team’s much-anticipated 2021 Q3 Update, Loopring CEO Daniel Wang expressed overwhelming concern towards his inability to provide any details on the company’s secret NFT partner on his Official Loopring Discord server.

Daniel Wang sent several messages on Discord on September 27th, 2021

Translated from Chinese, albeit poorly, Daniel Wang states he is struggling to write the quarterly report with fear of leaking secrets and breaching a non-disclosure agreement.

I don’t know how to write this quarterly report. The big news hasn’t come out yet. I’ve written it for fear of leaking secrets and breaching the agreement… If you don’t write it, you feel empty and empty…

All of what the Loopring team has been working on for months relates to their premium NFT marketplace partner, and this partner won’t allow Wang to disclose anything about it. 

Sound familiar?

At GameStop’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, Ryan Cohen stated,

We know some people want us to lay out a whole detailed plan today, but that’s not gonna happen. You won’t find us talking a big game, making a bunch of lofty promises, or telegraphing our strategy to the competition. That’s the philosophy we adopted at Chewy.

If Wang doesn’t state Loopring’s progress, he will let down his investors, but if he does, he will break the contract. 

Daniel Wang sent several Discord messages before the Loopring Q3 Update

A few hours later, the Loopring CEO returns to Discord to urge his supporters to remain patient. Wang states, “just wait guys, the stuff that will be announced, will be worth 10 quarterly reports.

Loopring has since teased the Q4 announcement, with several tweets on their @loopringorg Twitter profile.

Loopring’s tweets have a familiar energy.

GameStop.Loopring.Eth

Etherscan is a Block Explorer and Analytics Platform for Ethereum.

Essentially, Etherscan allows anyone to explore and search the Ethereum blockchain for transactions, addresses, tokens, prices, and other activities taking place.

One search of the Ethereum Name ‘gamestop.loopring.eth’ resolves to the address ‘0x269635DF1C17f24e15E27786f0C28C3DD409B3D2’.

gamestop.loopring.eth is a product of Matthew Finestone.

The only transaction sent to this smart contract wallet is from ‘0x381636d0e4ed0fa6acf07d8fd821909fb63c0d10’, an address owned by Matthew Finestone, Head of Blockchain at Gamestop, on May 27th, 2021, over a month into his GameStop employment.

Why would finestone.eth fund the wallet ‘gamestop.loopring.eth’?

GMEdd.com was able to confirm that finestone.eth is owned by Matthew Finestone of GameStop.

Finestone even uses one of the NFTs held by his finestone.eth account as his profile picture on Twitter.

New Subdomains, too

Through tracking GameStop’s subdomains as they emerge, internet sleuths can reveal a lot about what a company is working on.

GameStop has created a new NFT subdomain: support.nft.gamestop.com, as of October 22, 2021. 

gamestop.com has 519 unique subdomains as of today.

While it currently redirects to a Zendesk page stating that the support center does not exist, it shows GameStop is in the process of building a customer service platform directly for their NFT offering. 

Getting started on a support center possibly indicates how soon the GameStop NFT project will be launching. If there wasn’t a product announcement imminent, would the company be concerned with providing support?

Family Ties

It was a night of cocktails, shopping and beats at the brand new Aventura Mall hotspot Jared Lang. The shirts, shoes, swim, outerwear, and hosiery designer Jared Lang celebrated his eponymous store opening with a select group of VIP’s and fashionistas who checked out the brand new brick and mortar hotspot situated in between Tiffany & Co. and Givenchy in the luxury wing of Aventura Mall. 

Ashley Finestone was photographed at Jared Lang’s grand opening celebration.

The lavish event was on March 15, 2018 in Aventura, Florida. Thanks to photography by Andrew Stankus, we can see that Ashley Finestone was in attendance, photographed alongside designer Jared Lang.

Finestone… where have we seen that name before?

Ashley Finestone shared Matthew Finestone’s LinkedIn Post in May 2021.

“Proud of my brother as he embarks on his next endeavor,” says Ashley Finestone, as Matthew Finestone departs his position as Head of Business at Loopring for a project seeking full stack/blockchain/solidity developers “looking for a big challenge and opportunity….” later revealed to be GameStop.

Who else was photographed at this grand opening celebration?

Ryan Cohen was photographed at Jared Lang’s Grand Opening.

The man who brought dog food onto the internet himself, Ryan Cohen, co-founder of Chewy and Chairman of the Board at GameStop.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, as Jared Lang proclaims Ryan Cohen is his closest friend and brother-in-law.

Jared Lang on LinkedIn in 2019

So, GameStop’s future Chairman and the sister of GameStop’s future Head of Blockchain both happen to be “Select VIPs” at a small opening party all the way back in 2018?

The Cohen family ties seem to extend past Jared Lang, possibly even to Finestone.

If you think this may just be one hell of a cohencidence, look no further than Facebook.

Candice Cohen updated her profile picture on May 12, 2020.

On a May 2020 profile picture update by Candice Cohen, Ryan Cohen’s wife, Ashley Finestone reacted with a heart.

We would never want to invade anyone’s personal privacy here at GMEdd.com, even in the pursuit of investigation, so do note that these are public posts, shared on social media.

Ashley Finestone has updated her profile picture too.

Another updated profile picture, this one by Ashley Finestone on the 9th of November, 2014, was liked by Candice Cohen. 2014. 

We can also recall that Ryan Cohen, who was born in Montreal, Canada never went to college. Matthew Finestone, however, attended McGill University, a school in Montreal, Canada.

Both Matthew Finestone and Ryan Cohen have roots in the Canadian city of Montreal.

It seems the relationship of Ryan Cohen and Matthew Finestone dates back much, much, further than the April 2021 hiring of Finestone as GameStop’s Head of Blockchain.

Is it possible that recruiting Matthew Finestone to lead an NFT division was part of Ryan Cohen’s transformation plan from the beginning?

Rolling it all back up

Nobody knows for certain what GameStop’s extensive NFT division has been working on. 

Loopring is keeping secrets as well, with the CEO disclosing that the Ethereum-based technology company is working with a premium partner who demands they keep quiet.

GameStop’s Head of Blockchain speaks with incredible passion about his time at Loopring, even a month after transitioning to working for GameStop.

Matthew Finestone sent out this tweet on May 12, 2021.

Although Matthew Finestone was formerly listed on LinkedIn as an Advisor to Loopring while simultaneously maintaining his employment at GameStop, he has since departed his advisory role at Loopring, possibly to stay in good corporate governance amid a partnership between both companies.

In Finestone’s Loopring departure letter, the former Head of Business left a heartfelt message to the engineering team, stating that he has absolutely zero doubt that Loopring’s future is bright.

Finestone’s Loopring departure speaks directly to the team he worked alongside.

Digital breadcrumbs allow for reasonable assumptions to be made, as it seems Loopring has the technology that GameStop would require to bridge traditional e-commerce and blockchain and engineer the revolution of gaming.

With Q4 of 2021 already underway, it is only a matter of time until Loopring’s NFT Marketplace partner is announced, and we can expect GameStop investors will be on the edge of their seats until then.

Toast and vestro researched and contributed. Toast edited and contributed.

Sources: Finestone on Medium, About Loopring, Candice Cohen on Facebook, Jared Lang on LinkedIn, Finestone on Twitter, Finestone on Twitter, Ashley Finestone on Facebook, World Red Eye, Loopring on Twitter, Loopring on Twitter, Forbes, Matt Finestone on LinkedIn, Ashley Finestone on LinkedIn, Finestone on Medium

Join GMEdd.com’s Official Discord Server to chat about this article, GameStop’s transformation, and more.

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“One day Chewy CEO Sumit Singh is going to come in to work and the entire office will just be empty, the trash cans overflowing after GME poaches everyone below him including the janitorial staff.” – woodcubed

GameStop’s recruiting team is relentless.

Several E-commerce giants have sacrificed executive talent to GameStop while the gaming retailer undergoes a historic transformation.

Just Chewing Away

Chewy’s Vice President of Engineering, Mark Bixby, has left his career at Chewy where he was responsible for building Chewy’s e-commerce platform, to take part in engineering the revolution of gaming.

Mark Bixby is now working remotely from Boston for GameStop Corp.

the revolution

In August, GameStop’s Group Director of eCommerce Engineering made a bold claim while searching for candidates to fill never-ending positions at the transforming gaming retailer, stating:

Want to be a part of engineering the revolution of gaming?

In the last six months, GameStop has recruited over 70 individuals from Chewy alone, including several vice presidents and team leaders.

GMEdd’s full tech hire sheet is available on our Report and Models page.

the navy seals of management teams

While this many hirings of this caliber is always impressive, Mark Bixby’s recruitment was anticipated by GMEdd 4 weeks ago.

In June, GMEdd built the GameStop Tracker, a publicly-accessible bot that alerts investors of new job postings at the company, using open resources.

You can check out the bot on our Discord server #gme-tracker.

The job posting by GameStop Corp. for a VP of Engineering, Ecommerce on September 2nd, 2021 caught our eyes.

Why? Because it was meant for Mark Bixby, literally.

GameStop’s job posting on September 2nd, 2021

It’s typical for a corporation that already has the candidate to establish a job posting in which anybody can apply, with the description defining the already selected candidate.

They just said the quiet part.

Oops.

Sources: GameStop.com Careers, Mark Bixby on LinkedIn

Since Ryan Cohen’s tech centric takeover, GameStop.com has faced constant updates in pursuit of e-commerce perfection.

Back in March of 2021, after over two decades of GameStop’s classic pure black and dark red logo, the company’s website was updated to feature all red lettering, seemingly putting the past behind them.

Following this update in June 2021, GMEdd took note of GameStop refreshing their corporate branding to a sleek black and white, a bold new look for the aspiring tech company’s digital presence.

Two months into Cohen’s entrance GameStop tried going all red.

Now What?

Within the past week, GameStop has updated its website logo, again, but not to their black and white logo from June, to something new we’ve never seen before.

The GameStop logo remained largely unchanged from 2000 until now.

Now, the logo is back to its original black and red, but the exact colors used are different. The red letters are now a more subdued shade of red, and the black letters are in a lighter shade of black.

The logo’s signature Impact font is also notably modernized, featuring curved edges in exchange for the old sharp lines.

Sharp lines are out, curvy is in.

We can’t help but take note that there’s another certain e-commerce giant with a very curvy logo, all the way from a to z.

Updates Across the Board

The logo change isn’t the only fresh look on the website. 

GameStop.com’s digital storefront has gone through several major overhauls since Cohen took over and it’s likely we will continue to see incremental changes to the platform.

GameStop’s Investor Relations page has also undergone a significant update, introducing new branding with refreshed font, and fun gaming-related banners. 

It is as if they’re trying to appeal to a new kind of investor

GameStop’s new board pushed for an update to their investor relations pages.

The update to GameStop’s investor relations appeared on September 6th, 2021, shortly before GameStop’s Q2 2021 Earnings announcement.

The branding seen in this section of their site matches that of the job listing posts by GameStop on LinkedIn that started about a month ago.

GameStop’s branding is facing refreshes in all departments.

GMEdd’s Tech Hires sheet details over 180 tech-related hires since RC Ventures’ January takeover, including new designers and graphic artists.

Pixel by pixel, GameStop must implement both subtle and powerful changes, while retaining the retail giant’s distinguished look that gamers across the world have resonated with for over twenty years.

Jenna and Toast wrote this article exclusively for GMEdd, Toast edited

Sources: Wayback Machine, Wayback Machine, GameStop.com, GameStop on LinkedIn

On Sunday, September 26th, the GameStop Chairman tweeted an old American proverb in a telling manner towards his strategy.

After Ryan Cohen co-founded Chewy in 2011 and sold the company to Petsmart for $3.35 billion just six years later, the financial media was dying to know the e-commerce mogul’s next start-up.

In a surprising move that disrupted retail brick-and-mortar unlike ever before, Ryan Cohen’s RC Ventures was awarded 3 seats on GameStop’s board in January 2021.

Since then, Cohen has cleared house, with fresh officers and new management now at the helm of the gaming giant.

The reception

While the talking heads of the financial world still try to make sense of it, the stock is up 1,725% since September of last year and Ryan Cohen has remained silent about his strategy, driving them crazy.

Analysts such as Loop Capital’s Anthony Chukumba stay awake at night over GameStop’s antics, refusing to cover the stock.

Ryan Cohen explained this mindset to shareholders at GameStop’s annual meeting.

We know some people want us to lay out a whole detailed plan today, but that’s not gonna happen. You won’t find us talking a big game, making a bunch of lofty promises, or telegraphing our strategy to the competition. 

The Twitter Genius

One look at Ryan Cohen’s Twitter and you would be hard-pressed to believe this man is running any public company, nonetheless one the market values at $14 billion.

Ryan Cohen has been tweeting comedic gifs and hard-to-decipher memes for almost a year now, but his most recent didn’t take long for investors to comprehend.

On September 26, 2021 Ryan Cohen tweeted, “Talk is cheap, it takes money to buy whiskey.”

The phrase “talk is cheap, it takes money to buy whiskey,” which was first ever seen in the Chicago Daily Tribune on November 21, 1891, means that it’s easier for someone to say that he will do something than to actually do it. 

Many who run public companies make a bunch of lofty promises, leaving Ryan Cohen as a contrarian. He prefers to execute.

Work Hard in Silence

While GameStop rarely announces corporate strategy, GMEdd has logged over 180 tech-related hires at GameStop Corp., just via LinkedIn.

Something must be brewing.

A recent job posting at GameStop.com for a Senior Full-Stack Order Management System Software Developer at the new Florida center reveals that GameStop believes the hype is real, and they are now laying the foundation for the next generation of an iconic company.

GameStop’s job posting often reveal what the up to behind-the-scenes

Although many GameStop investors are eager to hear more from the reserved Chairman, the tweeting of a simple proverb is enough to raise some’s bullish spirits.

Let’s just hope it’s some nice whiskey.

Sources: Ryan Cohen on Twitter, GameStop.com

Customer care was always the focus at Chewy, so GameStop’s increased investments in support for the gaming retailer should be no surprise.

GameStop Corp. today announced that the company plans to hire up to 500 employees at its newly-leased customer service center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

The new 30,000 square foot facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2021.

First Stop to the moon, Florida

On top of what we saw in the spring, GameStop has reportedly been recruiting vigorously in South Florida, with the company’s very own Kelli Durkin, Senior Vice President Customer Service, sharing a photo of a new billboard via Twitter.

GameStop may finally be embracing their new meme status. How do you do, fellow kids?

The SVP has been interactive with fans on Twitter, sharing selfies at corporate events and around the office.

When Ryan Cohen, GameStop’s Chairman, was asked how he finds his management teams during a 2018 Miami Herald interview, he gave his endorsement for LinkedIn.

We use a special proprietary tool called LinkedIn and we look for people with very relevant experience at companies we respect and we shoot them a message. … We hand-picked these people. They are the best of the best, the Navy Seals of management teams.

Posts searching for talent are rampant on LinkedIn, with a clear emphasis on hiring gamers who have passion.

Justin Margerum is just one of the latest recruiters for the new GameStop.

Why Florida?

Back in May, GMEdd.com speculated in a piece titled GameStop Hints at New Florida Office that the fast-paced e-commerce initiatives warranted the company soon opening a Florida-based call center.

Job postings on GameStop’s website, along with activity on LinkedIn and Twitter from employees, seem to be hinting towards a South Florida-based customer support center for GameStop. [GMEdd.com, May 18th 2021]

GameStop claims that the facility will be an integral part of the Company’s U.S.-based customer care operations.

South Florida is hot for startups

Entrepreneurs are flocking to South Florida to start companies, Kerry Close of Inc.com claims.

The region is emerging as a hotbed for startups, local entrepreneurs say, with 139 companies on the Inc. 5000 list based in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area. No one particular industry is flourishing in the region–everything from health technology to media to food boast fast-growing companies.

There are also economic benefits to relocating to South Florida, such as the lack of income tax in the state, and cheaper living costs than can be found many other startup hubs around the country.

While GameStop Corp. isn’t a startup, the transformation story isn’t far from one.

Past Success

It’s worth noting that Chewy started in South Florida and still operates the business from the Fort Lauderdale area.  Chewy employs over 17,000 people nationwide, with 3,000 in South Florida, making it one of the largest locally based employers in the region.

Ryan Cohen co-founded Chewy in 2011. In 2017, Chewy was acquired by PetSmart for $3.35 billion, which was the largest ever acquisition of an e-commerce business at the time.

With an office nearby, GameStop could easily tap into Chewy’s talent pool. GameStop has been recruiting hordes of former Chewy employees, and it is possible that the lack of forced relocation has been a major incentive.

Sources: GameStop News Room, Inc.com, Inc.com, Reddit, Kelli Durkin on Twitter, Margerum on LinkedIn

GameStop Corp. today released financial results on the company’s new Investor Relations platform for the second quarter ended July 31, 2021.

The gaming retailer published condensed and consolidated financial statements for the quarter.

The Company’s Form 10-Q and supplemental information can be found at GameStop’s Investor Relations.

SECOND QUARTER OVERVIEW

Generated net sales of $1.183 billion, compared to $942 million in the prior year’s second quarter.

Ended the period with cash and restricted cash of $1.78 billion.

Ended the period with no long-term debt, other than a $47.5 million low-interest loan associated with the French government’s pandemic response.

Invested in long-term growth initiatives that include expanding the Company’s product catalog, enhancing its fulfillment network capabilities and technology, and adding talent across the organization.

Entered into a lease of a new 530,000 square foot fulfillment center in Reno, Nevada, positioning the Company’s fulfillment network to span both coasts of the continental U.S.

Entered into a lease of a new customer care center in Pembroke Pines, Florida and started building out U.S.-based customer care operations.

THE RELEASE

GameStop’s Earnings Release can be found here:

GameStop News Room, September 08 2021

GameStop’s Q2 2021 Earnings Call can be heard here:

Q2 2021 Gamestop Corp. Earnings Conference Call (YouTube, Webcast)

GameStop’s Form 10-Q can be found here: 

COMMISSION FILE NO. 1-32637   (HTML, IXBRL, RTF, PDF, XLS, XRBL)

Source: GameStop News Room

GameStop’s Group Director of eCommerce Engineering has made a bold claim while searching for candidates to fill never-ending positions at the transforming gaming retailer.

GameStop has been undergoing a behind-the-scenes tech-centric transformation, largely revealed by hoards of new talent brought on after the January agreement with Ryan Cohen’s firm RC Ventures.

another new guy

Mike Angstadt has only been a member of GameStop’s corporate team since early August, but already seems in-the-know to what’s coming next for the aspiring tech company.

The self-proclaimed builder, leader, and innovator is based in Austin Texas and now holds the position of Group Director of eCommerce Engineering at GameStop.

Angstadt describes his supportive role in one sentence via LinkedIn:

Supporting the eCommerce Engineering teams at GameStop through our revolution of the gaming industry.

Mike Angstadt’s job description as of August 25th, 2021.

In an August 23rd post on the social media platform, Angstadt stated that GameStop was looking to hire for a rapidly growing all-star team at GameStop eCommerce, implying that GameStop has started an internal division just for eCommerce initiatives.

The Group Director of eCommerce Engineering goes as far as to state that GameStop is engineering the revolution of gaming.

Mike Angstadt’s LinkedIn post from August 23rd.

What’s the job?

The position that Mike Angstadt is recruiting for is available fully-remote, enabling great engineers to apply to work for GameStop no matter their location.

The job description makes several requests that applicants are to place emphasis on customer experiences, such as:

  • Thrive in an ambiguous environment, be resourceful, and make tradeoffs to deliver customer impact.
  • Exhibit a bias for action, constantly looking for ways to improve performance and customer experience.
  • Be results-oriented, data-driven, and passionate about building innovative customer experiences.

The Software Engineer, Ecom Platform job posting from GameStop.

Interestingly, GameStop also asks that applicants have the ability to thrive in a fast-paced, startup-like environment.

  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, startup-like, agile development environment.

In May, GMEdd proclaimed that GameStop’s success in acquiring new talent is at a rate that can be compared only to the likes of the hottest new startup.

The frenzy continues

Since then, GameStop has continued the recruiting frenzy, amassing over 130 distinguished hires to gear up for a groundbreaking transformation.

GMEdd’s GameStop August 26th Tech Hire Database.

There doesn’t seem to be any brakes on this train, with new hires being unveiled on LinkedIn almost daily. 

While Ryan Cohen has no known plans to publicize his roadmap moving forward, sleuthing around on LinkedIn remains the best way to make educated guesses as to what comes next for GameStop.

To stay up to date on the latest tech hires, visit GMEdd.com’s Report and Models page.

Source: Mike Angstadt on LinkedIn

GameStop Corp., today announced that it will report second quarter fiscal 2021 earnings results after the market closes on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

The gaming retailer in the midst of transformation will host an investor conference call at 5:00 pm ET on the same day to review the company’s financial results. This call and any supplemental information can be accessed at GameStop’s investor relations home page.

Where to tune in

The phone number for the investor conference call is 877-451-6152 and the confirmation code is 13722703. The conference call will be archived for two months on GameStop’s corporate website.

GMEdd.com has hosted livestreams for prior conference calls, as viewership often surpasses what GameStop’s systems can handle.

We advise all GameStop investors follow @GMEdd on Twitter for updates.

The significance

This will mark the first earnings call since the departure of former CEO George Sherman, so a change of pace is to be expected.

While Ryan Cohen announced at the Annual Shareholder’s Meeting that he does not plan to talk a big game, investors will anticipate some direction from the gaming retailer under new leadership.

The newly instated CEO Matt Furlong, a former Amazon executive, will likely speak during the majority of the conference call, if tradition continues.

Source: GameStop News Room

With previously outgoing executives closing brick-and-mortar stores and new leadership directing a technology-based transformation, the fate of GameStop’s own Game Informer was left uncertain.

Game Informer is a monthly video game magazine featuring articles, news, strategy, and reviews of video games and associated consoles.

The Game Informer Show was started in September of 2009 as a weekly gaming podcast covering the latest video game news, industry topics, exclusive reveals, and reviews.

The History

The Game Informer publication debuted 30 years ago, in August 1991, when the video game retailer FuncoLand started publishing an in-house newsletter.

Game Informer’s first release was the iconic Fall Issue of 1991.

GameStop acquired FuncoLand in 2000. Due to this acquisition, a large amount of promotion has been done in-store, which has contributed to the success of the magazine; as of 30 June 2017 it was the 5th most popular magazine by copies circulated. 

Game Informer has transitioned to a more online-based focus since the 2010s, becoming an important part of GameStop’s customer loyalty program, PowerUp Rewards, which offers subscribers access to special content on the official website.

In August 2019, after months of declining financials for GameStop, about half of the existing Game Informer staff were let go, part of the larger cut of more than 120 jobs by GameStop as part of the effort to improve their financial performance.

Luckily, Game Informer’s story doesn’t end there.

The Revival

In April 2021, GameStop poached 8-year Amazon veteran Elliott Wilke as Chief Growth Officer, tasked to oversee growth strategies for Power Up Rewards and Game Informer.

GameStop’s announcement post for Elliott Wilke on LinkedIn.

Since then, the company has implemented several fan-supported upgrades to Power Up Rewards such as exclusive access to coveted restocks of next-gen consoles and graphics cards.

On August 19th, Game Informer has unveiled a revamped Game Informer Show, featuring new hosts and a better audio experience.

Gamers and investors alike can watch Game Informer’s video update here on their official YouTube channel.

With former host Ben Reeves holding new responsibilities as Game Informer’s Online Content Director, he passes the torch onto a different pair of hosts, Alex Stadnik and Alex Van Aken, who are taking the show in a new direction.

The format is changing and the show now features a news section, weekly roundtable chats about industry topics, and more.

So What?

Podcast viewership is on the rise, with 55% (155 million) of the US population having listened to a podcast in 2020 – up from 51% in 2019, citing data from The Infinite Dial.

For Game Informer to excel alongside GameStop’s transformation, increased focus on the latest trends in digital content consumption will be necessary, and now appear to be under way.

Sources: Kotaku, The Infinite Dial, Game Informer on YouTube, Alliance for Audited Media

The Wall Street Journal spoke to current and former GameStop board members to break the news on conclusions GMEdd drew four months ago. 

The story GameStop’s Power Player: How Outsider Ryan Cohen Wrested Control by Sarah E. Needleman at the Wall Street Journal released today describes an inside look at how the founder of Chewy took over a struggling gaming retailer.

Strikingly enough, GMEdd already published most of these details by analyzing digital breadcrumbs, without speaking to any confidential sources.

The story begins in 2019

Back in May, GMEdd.com revealed that Ryan Cohen had started to build his GameStop position as early as 2019, which has now been discovered by the Wall Street Journal.

To recap, the company was hoping for a buyout after years of unfruitful executive shakeups.

In early 2019, GameStop tried and failed to sell itself after years of stagnant growth and corporate strategy missteps. That spring, it hired a new CEO, George Sherman, a veteran of retailers including Advance Auto Parts. Mr. Sherman was GameStop’s fifth CEO in less than two years. Later in 2019, Mr. Cohen began building his stake. [WSJ,  Aug. 12 2021]

The WSJ now reports that Ryan Cohen’s swift accumulation of power at GameStop was orchestrated from his Florida beachfront apartment as the result of a series of previously unreported moves, people familiar with the matter said.

August 2020 ownership disclosure by Ryan Cohen and RC Ventures.

In May, GMEdd wraps up the history of Ryan Cohen’s initial GameStop strategy as:

Ryan Cohen started buying into GameStop in April of 2019, with a disclosure following increased holdings in August 2020. It’s unknown as to when he made the decision and how much time was spent beforehand figuring out activist investor logistics coinciding with a PR blitz, but it is reasonable to assume he was strategically building public-facing credibility for himself before revealing his high-stakes investment. [GMEdd, May 29 2021]

Have a seat

The WSJ reports that as GameStop’s board learned of Ryan Cohen’s stock purchases the directors offered him a board seat, according to current and former board members.

This aligns with the detail pointed out by GMEdd’s own Rod Alzmann that GameStop’s Investor Relations had referred to Ryan Cohen as a great shareholder since April of 2019.

Rod Alzmann’s rough notes after speaking to GameStop IR in late 2020.

The confidential sources claim that Cohen turned down the entreaty, telling directors that a sole board seat would give him no meaningful influence over decision making.

In November, Ryan Cohen released his famous letter stating just that.

According to these sources, the board responded to Cohen’s November 2020 letter by hosting a private call with the activist investor.

kill the cash cushion

The WSJ reports that Cohen erupted the following month when GameStop said it would sell $100 million in new stock.

Directors claim that the topic hadn’t come up on his call with the board.

Cohen, a 12.9% shareholder of GameStop at the time, reportedly worried the plan would damage the company’s standing among investors by reducing the value of existing shares.

The confidential source reveals that in response, Cohen wrote an email to GameStop’s then-chairwoman, Kathy Vrabeck, warning her that he would go public with his disapproval if the company proceeded with the sale.

Verbatim, we imagine the email went something like this.

Cohen urged her to share the email with other directors, people familiar with the matter said. The company shortly after scuttled the planned stock sale, for reasons undisclosed.

A former board member claims that Cohen made a significant power move here.

The ill-timed stock offering created a wedge and he used it to his advantage.

Reportedly leery of a prolonged fight and open to new ideas to improve the business, the board invited Cohen and his former business partners Jim Grube and Alan Attal to join in January.

“Welcome” aboard

The sources claim that Ryan Cohen approached his first board meeting, held over videoconference that same month, as a blitz.

Cohen also attended the Annual Shareholders Meeting via videoconference in June.

In his first meeting on the board, Cohen reportedly proposed the formation of a new committee to review GameStop’s strategy for spending and hiring.

Cohen requested this committee consist of himself, fellow activist investor Kurt Wolf and former Chewy executive Alan Attal. Some members of the board said they worried about permitting Cohen so much power on subjects of day-to-day management, but the proposal was approved.

GameStop announced the committee via News Release on March 8th.

The WSJ reports that Mr. Cohen proceeded to personally recruit new talent, including executives from Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Chewy, all big names that GMEdd has been tracking hires from since May.

Cohen reportedly countered other executives that questioned his decisions, telling them that “the pace of change needed to quicken.”

In an instance shared by people familiar with the matter, Ryan Cohen asked a company executive to sign a deal to lease a new fulfillment center, hoping to speed up delivery times for customers’ online orders.

The executive reportedly pushed back with the belief that such a request from a director was unusual and against company policy that called for such contracts to undergo vetting that included multiple executives. The project later moved forward.

Sudden rise

GameStop directors were reportedly concerned about the sudden rise in valuation.

The board debated whether to discuss it publicly and whether the stock volatility could lead to shareholder lawsuits, current and former directors said.

Few directors other than Mr. Cohen were familiar with Reddit, the social network where speculative investors began to conjugate, board members said.

GameStop quickly became Reddit’s stock market darling.

The WSJ reports that Ryan Cohen’s rapidly-growing celebrity status, combined with his tendency to dabble in the company’s operations, earned him fans neither in the boardroom nor among GameStop’s executive ranks.

“Ryan personified a hero against the hedge funds,” a former board member said

One GameStop director, PetSmart Inc. chief executive J.K. Symancyk, on multiple occasions told board members that Chewy under Mr. Cohen was unprofitable and later required a full information-technology overhaul, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Several directors interpreted the remarks from Mr. Symancyk, who met Mr. Cohen in the process of joining PetSmart, as criticism. Others reportedly viewed the commentaries as matter-of-fact descriptions.

Get the bell out

In an effort to gain more control of GameStop’s spending,  Cohen pushed for finance chief Jim Bell to be the first senior executive to go, people familiar with the matter said.

It worked.

On February 23rd, 2021, GameStop announced Jim Bell’s resignation via News Release.

A handful of top executives, including CEO George Sherman, considered stepping down and claiming their contracts had been breached because of the reduction in their duties due to the board member’s involvement in corporate affairs, a person familiar with the matter said. 

The WSJ reports that the new board member was brash and outspoken, while George Sherman, 60, tended to keep to himself, people who know them both said. 

Though Mr. Sherman worked through most of the pandemic in GameStop’s Texas headquarters, it was Mr. Cohen, on all-hours video calls from his apartment, who called many of the shots, according to board members.

On top of this, new employees, likely appointed by Cohen, frequently sought out the brash new board member directly with questions about the business or operations, bypassing the CEO, people familiar said.

Ryan Cohen encouraged Mr. Sherman to step aside, and in April he agreed.

George Sherman officially departed GameStop in June.

In private conversations, Cohen reportedly expressed shock that even executives with relatively short tenures could leave with lucrative stock awards.

Moving Forward

In conversations with directors and executives, the new Chairman emphasized improving the experience for GameStop customers, predicting that gamers will support the company if it provides better service, competitive prices and faster shipping.

The WSJ claims that people familiar with the matter said that through midsummer, GameStop has hired more than 80 new employees with technology experience.

Huh. Wonder where they got that data.

View GMEdd’s latest tech hire report, detailing over 100 tech hires, at GMEdd’s Reports and Model page.

While the former board had intentions to sell shares at sub-$20 for an insignificant cash cushion, Ryan Cohen has raised more than $1.6 billion at greater than $200 per share, eliminating the company’s long-term debt and funding a transformation that will be studied in business schools for decades.

Power to the players.

Source: Wall Street Journal