GameStop has been selected to demonstrate a new feature on Twitter that allows businesses to add a shopping section to the top of their profiles.

GameStop’s Twitter presence has seen a plethora of updates since the transformation began with RC Ventures being awarded three seats on the board in January.

Most notably, the gaming retailer’s customer support division, lead by Chewy’s Kelli Durkin, has hired a team of millennials to run the account and respond to tweets by GameStop shoppers.

The latest change, though, comes from Twitter itself.

Twitter Shopping

In a blog post titled Twitter Shopping: Testing the Shop Module, on Wednesday, July 28th, Twitter announced that the social media giant would be adding a feature that allows the company to explore how shoppable profiles can create a pathway from talking about and discovering products on Twitter to actually purchasing them. 

Twitter’s Blog Post from Wednesday, July 28 2021

According to Twitter, people in the U.S. who use Twitter in English on iOS devices will be able to see the Shop Module on select profiles, allowing them to purchase products from their favorite stores without having to leave the app.

Twitter states that the platform is starting small with a handful of brands in the United States. One of which is GameStop.

Sign of the times

While this may not seem like much, it’s a sign of innovation lying within the new tech and social media teams.

Could you have pictured GameStop being one of only a dozen brands selected to pilot a new e-commerce feature on one of the biggest social networks when Sherman was in charge? We don’t think so.

GameStop’s digital presence has seen rapid improvements while GMEdd has counted over 100 senior-level hires by the aspiring technology company, with a vast range of forward-thinking talent poached largely from e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Chewy, and others.

Source: Twitter Blog

After tweeting a nod to both the Olympics and the news about GameStop’s brand coming to Canada, the Chairman has refined his Twitter following.

Here at GMEdd, we overanalyze. It’s what we do best. 

On February 4th, 2021, Ryan Cohen briefly followed GameStop’s investing icon Roaring Kitty. GMEdd decided that was worthy of discussion, so we called attention to it. When Ryan Cohen made any sort of adjustments to his following from that point on, we felt obliged to cover it.

Since then, Ryan Cohen has made several tweaks to his Twitter following, and we have continued to try and speculate as to what each change could mean.

Follow Along the History

February 4, 2021: Ryan Cohen follows Roaring Kitty as the personality becomes the face of retail investors for his famous conviction in GameStop. At the time, Cohen had followed just GeekWire, PCGamer, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.

February 5, 2021: We watched as Ryan Cohen doubled his 5 follows into 10 overnight, diluting his count more than the CEO of AMC. Cohen follows Steam, Electronic Arts, SEGA, Call of Duty, EA Sports, Xbox, PlayStation and GameStop, and unfollows Roaring Kitty, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.

February 15, 2021: Ryan Cohen follows Elon Musk. Cohen Unfollows SEGA to accommodate for the spot for Musk.

February 24, 2021: The Chewy founder unfollows Electronic ArtsCall of Duty, and  EASPORTS.

May 13, 2021: Ryan Cohen unfollows Elon Musk amid controversy on Twitter. Cohen is left with only 4 follows: Xbox, PlayStation, NintendoAmerica, and GameStop.

What now?

On Wednesday, July 28th, Ryan Cohen has unfollowed Xbox, PlayStation, and NintendoAmerica.

Cohen is left following just the GameStop official Twitter profile. Simple, sleek, elegant.

Could this mean that GameStop is the only company on Ryan Cohen’s mind? Jeff Bezos also only follows one account, is this another play from Amazon’s book?

Who knows. Does it really matter? We’ll stop stalking your following now, Ryan.

We promise.

Source:  Ryan Cohen on Twitter

On Wednesday, July 28th, GameStop Corp. announced that the Company plans to rebrand existing and future EB Games in Canada.

By the end of this year, EB Games’ Canadian locations and online store will assume the GameStop brand and name. The decision aligns with Ryan Cohen’s plans to revitalize retail.

GameStop claims the rebranding follows feedback from valued customers and stockholders.

GameStop’s News Release from July 28, 2021

GameStop’s Annual Report reveals that as of January 30th, 2021, GameStop has 253 locations in Canada, making up 15.58% of their international store base. 

GameStop Corp. has disposed of 46 brick-and-mortar EB Games locations in Canada in over a year, citing data from January 30th 2021.

On Sunday, GMEdd.com released a piece titled Ryan Cohen to Revitalize Retail, speculating that GameStop could use the stock market frenzy in January as the perfect consumer awareness campaign to rebrand international EBgames locations into GameStop stores.

The stock market phenomenon surrounding GameStop shares that shook financial markets in January 2021 can work as a groundwork for the perfect, free, consumer awareness campaign required to rebrand international stores, such as EBgames, into a cohesive GameStop identity. [GMEdd.com, July 25th 2021]

Source: GameStop News Release, GameStop Form 10-k

On Tuesday, July 27th, the S&P Dow Jones Indices has announced that GameStop is set to join the S&P MidCap 400, effective August 4th.

S&P SmallCap 600 constituent GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) will replace Weingarten Realty Investors (NYSE:WRI) in the S&P MidCap 400.

Lakeland Financial Corp. (NASD:LKFN) will replace GameStop in the S&P SmallCap 600.

These changes are effective prior to the opening of trading on Wednesday, August 4.

The S&P 400 index serves as a barometer for the U.S. mid-cap equities sector and is the most widely followed mid-cap index.

The Standard & Poors  July 27, 2021 Press Release

The S&P MidCap 400® provides investors with a benchmark for mid-sized companies. The index, which is distinct from the large-cap S&P 500®, is designed to measure the performance of 400 mid-sized companies, reflecting the distinctive risk and return characteristics of this market segment.

Standard & Poors states that mid-cap exposure generally captures a phase in the typical corporate life cycle in which firms have successfully navigated the challenges specific to small companies, such as raising initial capital and managing early growth.

At the same time, mid caps tend to be quite dynamic and not so large that continued growth is unattainable.

Source: Standard & Poors Press Release

Despite widespread brick-and-mortar closures due to economic unrest caused by COVID-19 in 2020, GameStop’s new Chairman is infuriated by dusty shelves and untrained employees and has committed to a plan to revive stores in tandem with a massive e-commerce push.

Three sources with apparent first-hand knowledge of Ryan Cohen’s strategy spoke with Reuters for an article titled Flush from Reddit rally, GameStop plots store revival, revealing the Chairman’s thoughts on the gaming giant’s retail store footprint and his ideal cohesive transformation.

While the identity of these sources is not known, at Reuters has been in contact with executives at the company for some time, reporting GameStop’s inability to deploy an offering during January’s frenzy in February, the email string between Cohen and a dissatisfied customer in March, and the CEO search initiation in April.

Undercover Boss

As GMEdd has previously reported, Ryan Cohen has been visiting GameStop retail stores around the United States and sharing photos on Twitter inside some locations.

The unnamed source claims that the purpose of these unannounced visits by the Chairman have been to “ghost-shop,” to better understand the retail situation.

Cohen was often infuriated by the dusty shelves and empty racks he found, as well as by some employees who did not greet customers properly or offer to help them, the sources said. 

The source also claims that Cohen has found that GameStop’s brick-and-mortar stores need to improve the customer experience by stocking  the basics and the most popular items, plus creating sections to cater to specific categories of customers, from video game fanatics to mothers seeking puzzles for their children.

Cohen has also reportedly told executives and staff that the “only differentiator” for GameStop was customer service and that needed to improve.

Investing in Retail

Recent statements from the executives along with Cohen’s “ghost-shopping” seem to indicate the company is planning to do more with its retail locations other than just reduce the overall footprint, countering the previous strategy directed by former CEO George Sherman. 

While store closures to date have lead to improvements in cash flow, GameStop stating last year it was able to capture 40% of closed store sales through online channels and other nearby stores reveals there is still value to be extracted from the considerable store fleet that remains.

Ryan Cohen has reportedly become increasingly bullish about the stores and plans to allocate some of the share offering proceeds to redesign and restock stores, alongside training staff.

The piece also answers what some of the recent capital raises will pay for.

Included in Cohen’s goals are better product selection in stores, extended hours to serve gamers who tend to be night owls, and price matching against Amazon and Walmart. 

Reuters also claims that GameStop, which is debt-free after its capital raises, also plans to hire new people at the stores and meet long-standing requests by many store managers for refurbishment, sources said.

Since Cohen’s arrival, GameStop’s board and executive ranks have been overhauled and these newcomers are concentrating on the stores.

GameStop Chief Operating Officer, Jenna Owens commented on LinkedIn shortly after joining the company that spending time training in stores would be her first priority.

It seems Cohen’s transformation strategy may be more focused on an omnichannel angle rather than a pure ecommerce play.

Questions still remain as to the fate of international stores, namely stores in Europe, Canada, and Australia carrying the EB Games, Zing, and Micromania brands.

Will these be retained as is, sold off to generate further cash, or rebranded into GameStop stores?

Stores in each region are all within striking distance of profitability, with Australian stores (branded as EB Games), the region least impacted by COVID-related operating restrictions during 2020, generating positive earnings in the latest fiscal year.

GameStop, over the last 15 months, has closed 811 stores, leaving it with about 3,000 U.S. stores and 1,600 stores abroad.

GameStop’s store footprint has shrunk over the past 5 years, citing data from GameStop’s annual reports

Florida Confirmed, Rapid expansion

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]

The unnamed sources close to matters within GameStop have now confirmed the incoming lease of a Florida call center to Reuters, stating that GameStop is close to signing a lease on a 30,000-square-foot call center in Southern Florida.

This adds credibility to hints that GameStop’s corporate footprint is increasing at a rapid pace.

Since RC Venture’s agreement with the board 6 months ago, GameStop has announced the leases of two fulfillment centers: one in Pennsylvania and one in Nevada.

With the new customer service center in Florida appearing to be coming soon, the claim that the company’s transformation will be studied for the next decade may not be far from the truth.

GameStop has rapidly expanded since Cohen’s arrival. The retailer has an existing fulfillment center in Kentucky that is not pictured.

moving forward

While GameStop has, in recent history, emphasized reducing brick-and-mortar locations, it remains unclear how Ryan Cohen and the new team at GameStop now view an optimized physical store footprint. 

Operating under prior Chief Executive Officer George Sherman’s GameStop Reboot strategy, the company noted in their 2Q20 earnings that the United States represented the greatest de-densification opportunity.

Sherman cited that the company has seen closed store sales volume transfer to neighboring locations and online well in excess of profit breakeven levels.

So long as transfer rates remain high enough to improve profitability, continued de-densification makes economic sense for the brick-and-mortar stores.

The company’s 10-K language aligns with this, stating the belief that, as current leases expire, the retailer will be able to obtain either renewals at present locations, leases for equivalent locations in the same area, or be able to close the stores with expiring leases and transfer enough of the sales to other nearby stores or e-commerce properties to improve, if not at least maintain, profitability.

All of GameStop’s retail stores are leased. This arrangement gives the company maximum flexibility.

Fortunately, the leases for the majority of GameStop stores expire within the next two years, affording maximum optionality for the company as the new console cycle shifts into high gear.

The stock market phenomenon surrounding GameStop shares that shook financial markets in January 2021 can work as a groundwork for the perfect, free, consumer awareness campaign required to rebrand international stores, such as EBgames, into a cohesive GameStop identity. 

While Ryan Cohen seeks to revitalize existing brick-and-mortar stores, the path forward is largely unknown as the Chairman has indicated he has no plans to “telegraph GameStop’s strategy to the competition.”

Rod Alzmann, Jenna Dauzat, and Chris Silvestro contributed, Joe Fonicello edited and contributed.

Sources: Reuters, GameStop Q2 2020 Earnings Call Transcript, GameStop Form 10-K, Jenna Owens on LinkedIn

After market skeptics feared a “Black Monday” stock sell-off, GameStop closed up 2.63% and Ryan Cohen stuck chopsticks up his nose.

Ryan Cohen has always had a goofy side, sharing sometimes raunchy and mysterious images on Twitter, such as a poop emoji over a picture of a Blockbuster store or the stuffed bear from the movie “Ted” ripping a bong. 

In a tweet sent out at 10:48 PM EST on July 19, 2021, the recently appointed Chairman of GameStop shared a photo of himself playing with chopsticks.

Wearing a black tee with a pair of sunglasses hanging on the collar, the photo was captioned, “PG-13.”

Speculative investors were quick to draw assumptions as to what a deeper meaning of the tweet could entail, largely rooted in the odd text and the split chopsticks.

PG-13

While PG-13 is typically known as a movie rating reserved for stronger-language movies by the Motion Picture Association film rating system, some interpreted this as a nod to Pg. 13 of GameStop’s Prospectus.

GameStop’s current prospectus, a disclosure document that describes a financial security for potential buyers, was filed on May 9th and utilizes page 13 to describe the definition of one unit of GameStop’s security.

A Stock Unit is a bookkeeping entry representing an amount equivalent to the Fair Market Value of one Share, payable in cash, property or Shares. Stock Units represent an unfunded and unsecured obligation of the Company, except as otherwise provided for by the Administrator.

Some believe this describes details for navigating a stock split event, dividend, or mythical NFT-dividend.

It is important to note that while GameStop’s “NFTeam” has grown exponentially, the ever-sensationalized NFT dividend theory has little evidence to support it.

2:1 Chop Sticks, Stock Split

Presumptive GameStop investor and reddit user I_eat_bananna interpreted the tweet as Ryan indicating that “the split is right under our nose.”

The expression “under someone’s nose” is used to describe something that one fails to see or notice even though he or she should.

In a stock split, shares are divided up, which can be done for several reasons; most commonly to reduce the share price to appeal to a larger number of retail investors.

This often makes sense when a company’s stock has increased to a point where retail traders consider it an unattractive or unaffordable investment, despite a low or reasonable market cap.

In 2020, Tesla announced a 5:1 split on August 11th with NASDAQ:TSLA at $1374 (split adj $274.88). Between August 11 and August 31 (effective split), TSLA rose +81%.

GameStop Corp.’s last stock split was effected on February 20, 2007, where the company declared a two-for-one stock split.

Information on this 2:1 split is still available on GameStop’s investor relations page. The page describes the impacts the adjusted price would have on the stock.

A 2-for-1 split means the investor will have twice as many shares as before, at half the market price. The split does not change the aggregate value of the shares you own. 

In GameStop’s February 12, 2007 announcement of the two-for-one split, R. Richard Fontaine, GameStop’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at the time, describes the reasoning for the price adjustment.

Growing rapidly and looking to appeal to a broader range of potential investors?

That sounds familiar.

Can’t Chop, Won’t chop, Gamechop

Any hint towards a future dividend or stock split is rooted in conspiracy; but what are investors if not speculators?

While no definitive reason can explain any of Ryan Cohen’s seemingly cryptic tweets, we can be reassured that GameStop’s Chairman enjoys Asian food and knows how to drive us crazy.

Wait, that’s not reassuring.

Sources: Ryan Cohen on Twitter, GameStop Investor Relations, GameStop Newsroom, GameStop Prospectus

GameStop’s Head of Blockchain felt the need to clear the air as anticipation rose towards the rumored July 14th GameStop NFT launch date.

GameStop’s Head of Blockchain, Matt Finestone, took to Twitter to reveal that the highly-anticipated launch date of July 14th seen in GameStop’s NFT contract was nothing more than a nod to the anticipated date of Ethereum’s next upgrade.

EIP-1559 greatly improves the UX of tx fees on Ethereum!

The GameStop NFT Contract

GameStop investors and crypto-enthusiasts alike had begun to speculate on the launch date based on line 936 of the GameStop NFT contract, which stated a ‘public launchDate’ of GameStop NFT in unicode as ‘1626261600‘.

Converted out of unicode, a launch date of July 14th, 2021, at 4:20 AM PT was revealed.

Several other mishaps have been previously noted in the GameStop NFT contract, such as a seemingly out of place reference to the cryptopunks craze. 

In late May, when one Twitter user claimed that GameStop had “just FOMO into Ethereum,” foobar, a contributor to the GameStop NFTeam,  went on the defensive and worked to explain GameStop’s NFT contract.

The GameStop NFT contract creator and Punk #4257 states that the contract that was posted on nft.gamestop.com only mints the standalone teaser NFT, and that’s it.

foobar goes on to say that he spent too much time on the vanity address, which featured several gaming references that fans appreciated.

0x13374200c29C757FDCc72F15Da98fb94f286d71e

Spent too much time on the vanity address and not enough on variable names… Back to building!

busy building, moving fast

Finestone has also expressed similar rhetoric towards a push to continue building.

In a response to Twitter user HappyBagholder, the Head of Blockchain stated that there is no date set in stone for GameStop NFT, and now the team is busy building.

GMEdd has counted double-digit blockchain/NFT hires bringing innovative experience to the gaming retailer, with current data visible on GMEdd’s Report and Models page. 

GameStop’s Blockchain division hires include, but are not limited to:

While bullish investors may be disappointed to hear GameStop’s NFT project isn’t ready for a launch four days from now, a tweet from May 5th by foobar looking for crypto talent reminds everyone that the team moves fast.

Join the GMEdd Discord Server to participate in the latest discussions on GameStop’s NFT project.

Sources: foobar on Twitter, finestonematt on Twitter, GameStop NFT

With 10 minutes to market close on Thursday, Ryan Cohen has shared his support for a fan’s project to create a LEGO set of a classic GameStop store.

In what may signify a change of pace towards the GameStop Chairman’s infrequent acknowledgements of retail investors, Ryan Cohen has linked to a fan-created GameStop Classic Shop on ideas.lego.com with the caption “I ❤️ this.”

The Set

The “GameStop Classic Shop” LEGO set, which was generated by LEGO Ideas user MCHLN, was posted on July 6th and only recently began gaining traction on social media today.

An article titled, LEGO Superfan Pays Homage to GameStop in New Set Design  by Sarah Kearns published by HYPEBEAST today may have also drawn Ryan Cohen’s attention towards the project.

The designer that submitted the project to LEGO Ideas needs 10,000 supporters to move on to Lego’s Expert Review Board, where it would then be considered for production.

Ryan Cohen’s link bumped the set from only 295 supporters to over 1,000, immediately becoming one of the fastest-growing Ideas on LEGOs site.

Full of jokes

The set makes several references to GameStop’s retail investor culture, including the Wallstreetbets guy holding a diamond in one hand, and a crayon in another,  drawing a stock chart that resembles NYSE:GME’s past… all while an ape watches.

The EXIT sign on the rear of the store is also green and crossed out, signifying the lack of an exit strategy among many investors, a line made famous by deepfuckingvalue.

Oh, and the GameStop is on the literal moon.

The Inspiration

The creator says that, while this is his first LEGO Ideas set, it is inspired by both the LEGO community and GameStop fans all over the globe.

Inspired by the community of both Lego Ideas and the GameStop Fans all over the globe – and also their connection through Lego video games, I created a classic GameStop Shop. Hope you like it, maybe send it to the moon with your likes? The Set is supposed to release with five mini figures, one representative ape, and the graffiti on the backside.

Located by GameStop’s Corporate Headquarters in Grapevine, Texas, is a Legoland Discovery Center just 12 minutes away.  The Discovery Centres are smaller versions of the Legoland theme parks located around the world. 

Check out the GameStop Classic Shop LEGO Ideas project page here.

Sources: Ryan Cohen on Twitter, LEGO Ideas, HYPEBEAST

With GameStop opening their second fulfillment center under Ryan Cohen’s leadership in Reno, Nevada the gaming retailer’s plan seems strikingly familiar.

GameStop today announced the continued expansion of its North American fulfillment network and entry into a lease of a 530,000 square foot facility in Reno, Nevada, which is expected to be operational in 2022.

Positioning

GameStop states that a new presence in Reno, Nevada will position the company to grow product offerings and expedite shipping across the west coast. This expansion follows GameStop’s entry into a lease of a 700,000 square foot facility in York, Pennsylvania.

Chewy parallels

When Ryan Cohen was asked about fulfillment at Chewy during his TechCrunch interview in 2019, the founder discusses how his leap of faith started by the opening of a fulfillment center in Pennsylvania and then one in Reno, Nevada.

We hired a bunch of people who were experts in fulfillment and we flew to Mechanicsburg, Pa. to lease a 400,000-square-foot space, and within nine months or so, we became expert at doing fulfillment. It was risky. It was totally outside of our areas of competence. But by August of 2014, after breaking everything first, that center was humming along, and then we launched another in Reno. At that point, we went national. 

The Rise of Chewy to Prove the Core Value of Any E-commerce Product by Ally Nguyen states that a year after that first breakthrough in Pennsylvania, Cohen launched Chewy’s second building in Reno, Nevada, and that second time just seems like the one-hundredth already.

Sources: GameStop News Room, TechCrunch, Envzone

GameStop’s digital-first transformation pinpoints the company to the tech hub of Seattle, Washington for fresh talent in the physical world. 

Back in May, GMEdd revealed that GameStop was hinting towards a new corporate location in Florida. While nothing has been officially announced regarding Florida, the appearance of Florida-based hires on LinkedIn as well as Florida-based positions on GameStop’s careers page have only increased.

All your base are belong to us.

During Ryan Cohen’s brief speech at The Annual Shareholders Meeting, the GameStop Chairman made it clear that the company may not ever announce these strategic decisions.

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.

Without official word from the gaming retailer, investors are left to analyze breadcrumbs to learn what comes next for the public company.

For the last few weeks the breadcrumbs have pointed to GameStop branching out to the rapidly-growing tech hub of Seattle, Washington.

Career listings

Over on the GMEdd Discord Server, a bot has been developed to track all of GameStop’s public job postings. Readers can join the server via GMEdd.com/Discord to keep tabs themselves.

A search for career postings in Seattle on GameStop’s website shows a variety of corporate level openings, with categories ranging from Data Science to Merchandising, posted just within the past week:

It is important to note that while the GameStop Careers platform only goes back to mid-June, GMEdd began taking note of Seattle jobs making their starting appearances in May. Several Merchandising and Data Science jobs have already been filled in the rainy city, making their mark on GMEdd’s GameStop Tech and E-commerce Hires Spreadsheet.

GameStop’s decision to expand corporate to Florida could be easily explained through Ryan Cohen’s deep roots in the palm tree state, along with many former Chewy execs remaining in the area — but what reason would the gaming retailer have to expand to Seattle?

Home to Tech & E-Commerce Giants

According to Statista, nearly 11% of Seattle’s workforce is employed in tech. Jacqueline McGraw of sf.citi believes that Seattle’s tech scene looks a lot like San Francisco’s did nearly a decade ago.

Even with remote work on the rise, the number of tech jobs in Seattle is growing and tech companies are expanding their footprint in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle appears to be following a similar tech policy trajectory to that of tech giant San Francisco.

Behind Chewy, Amazon and Zulily are two of GameStop’s favorites to poach from; 31 of the recent public hires come from Chewy, 22 from Amazon, and 19 from Zulily.

Both Amazon and Zulily have established headquarters in Seattle. LinkedIn and Crunchbase reveal that 17 of the hires have indicated Seattle as their primary location.

With Cohen heavily influenced by Amazon’s customer-obsessed mantra and Amazon remaining one of the biggest threats to e-commerce retailers, it’s also no surprise that GameStop is poaching more senior executives, including new CEO Matt Furlong and incoming CFO Mike Recupero, from the e-commerce giant. 

GameStop’s known Seattle-based senior executives include: Matt Furlong, Chief Executive Officer, [Former Amazon] · Mike Recupero, Chief Financial Officer, [Former Amazon] · Matt Francis, Chief Technology Officer, [Former Amazon] · Elliot Wilke, Chief Growth Officer, [Former Amazon] · Rob Mayer, SVP of Merchandising, [Former Amazon] · Ken Suzuki, VP, Supply Chain Systems, [Former Zulily]

At first glance, it may seem odd that GameStop is poaching from Zulily; an e-commerce company that sells clothing, footwear, toys, and home products isn’t a competitor to GameStop.

However, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those who have studied the prologue to this entire saga.

When I left you, I was but the learner

A look into the past tells us that the Co-Founder and Former Chairman of Zulily, Mark Vadon, was previously hand-picked by Ryan Cohen to serve as Chewy’s first Chairman of the Board. 

The Man Who Found Gold In Dog Food, published by Forbes in early 2017, details the story of Chewy’s past told through Ryan Cohen’s experience building the e-commerce giant. 

Cohen flew to Seattle to meet with Vadon, who was impressed by Cohen’s attention to detail. Not only did he agree to become Chair, but also to invest $5 million into Chewy after meeting Ryan

Chewy’s About Us page on March 3, 2015 featured Ryan Cohen as CEO and Mark Vadon as Chairman

Mark Vadon and Ryan Cohen share a similar lay-low strategy when it comes to running their online-based businesses, as revealed in a rare October 2014 GeekWire summit interview with Vadon.

It turns out that Vadon — who has built one of the most powerful e-commerce companies in Seattle since Amazon.com — consciously avoided press in the early days so as not to tip off competitors to the success they were seeing in the business.

The Zulily Chairman joins GeekWire to talk about building big technology companies, the future of e-commerce and more. Vadon had just begun his role as Chewy’s Chair at the time of this interview.


Vadon draws an analogy to oil drilling to explain this philosophy.

When you are drilling and you hit an oil patch, the last thing you want is people coming and drilling right next to you… It is important to put press off as long as you can.

In a separate TechCrunch article from 2017 post the sale of Chewy to PetSmart, Vadon is quoted as giving advice on staying low profile directly to Ryan Cohen and the Chewy team “to better avoid competition”.

Big Sky Ahead

Vadon’s latest venture is Big Sky Growth Partners – a blank check company or special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) incorporated on February 11, 2021, immediately following the GameStop frenzy in late January. 

Not much is known about Big Sky’s intentions, however SEC filings suggest they intend to leverage the deep expertise their team has in growing digitally native Internet Retail and Direct-to-Consumer companies. Big Sky intends to focus their search on these sectors or technologies that power these sectors.

LinkedIn activity suggests that Vadon was following the GameStop frenzy in late January, liking content relating to Reddit-fueled short squeeze events. Could it be that, like fellow former Chewy board member Larry Cheng, Vadon is continuing to mentor and support Ryan Cohen?

After all, GameStop’s first significant tech hire under Cohen’s direction was Matt Francis to the role of Chief Technology Officer. Francis, a Zulily veteran, was formerly Chief Technology Officer at Seattle-based Flyhomes, a company Vadon is both a board member of and investor in.

It is possible that Francis was recommended to Cohen by Vadon given their extensive history together.

Seattle silence

There isn’t much Seattle chatter on LinkedIn yet, but we think that may change soon. Rob Mayer, SVP of Merchandising and Amazon vet, shared a post on July 2nd on LinkedIn highlighting new roles in Seattle and that there would be more to come.

Jordan Holberg, the eccentric Principal Engineer at GameStop GMEdd uncovered only days ago, shared a tweet on May 11, 2021 where he polled his followers on whether to move to Washington or Florida.

Could these be two relocation options he was given as part of his employment contract at GameStop?

Why does it matter?

Of course, Amazon and Zulily are not the only major companies based in Seattle. It’s also home to countless other major players in the tech and gaming space including Microsoft and Valve, the company behind PC gaming giant Steam.

We already know GameStop has formed strategic partnerships with Microsoft, and the gaming retailer plans on expanding more into PC hardware. Nintendo has offices in Seattle as well.

GameStop expanding out to Seattle could indicate that the company is, in fact, evolving into a technology company, which Cohen pointed out as a need back in his November letter to the board.

Career postings and activity on LinkedIn continue to provide clues to what the future of GameStop will look like. GMEdd has now counted over 70 key tech hires under the new leadership, and that’s just from what we can see publicly on LinkedIn.

Based on current information, investors can expect to see an influx of new hires coming from the Seattle area and LinkedIn posts pointing to more Seattle-based job openings from GameStop.

New hires and new career listings are evidence that GameStop is undergoing a transformation under Ryan Cohen’s leadership. The company, which was founded in 1996, has always been based in Texas.

With chatter heating up around South Florida developing into the next best tech hub, and Seattle already being home to many FAANG offices and dubbed “Silicon Forest”, GameStop expanding to these cities in particular shows us that it’s taking big steps towards its evolution to a technology company.  

Recall new Seattle-based Chief Technology Officer Matt Francis’s optimistic LinkedIn post from April, where he declared GameStop’s transformation will be studied in every business school for the next decade. 

Perhaps establishing roots in Seattle is part of the prologue of a groundbreaking transformation story taking place at GameStop.

Jenna and vestro contributed. Toast edited and contributed.

Sources: Big Sky Growth Partners Form S-1, Mark Vadon on LinkedIn, Jordan Holberg on Twitter, GeekWire, Chewy.com About Us (May 2015), sfciti.org