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

On America’s Independence Day, Ryan Cohen has embraced GameStop’s new look alongside their famous “Power to the Players” slogan.

GameStop’s Chairman has sent out a tweet on the Fourth of July featuring the gaming retailer’s classic tagline followed by an American flag emoji. 

The tweet was also paired with an update to Cohen’s Twitter profile.

When Cohen was granted his new position at the Annual Shareholders Meeting, he updated his bio to feature a chair emoji and GameStop’s username. In the last few weeks, Cohen slightly changed his Twitter bio, properly capitalizing both @Chewy and @GameStop and removing the comma in-between both companies. Sorry, we’re a bit crazy.

Now, Cohen has updated his cover photo as well, ditching the Florida palm trees in favor of the famous slogan.

Power to the Players

This same slogan and graphic design is now featured as a cover photo for @GameStop on Twitter.

In the last week, GameStop has flaunted the black and white branding that GMEdd uncovered on June 18th being implemented on all of the GameStop Corp. social profiles. Unannounced, GameStop has deactivated the @GameStopCorp Twitter profile and brought the new look onto the consumer-facing social platforms. 

Source: Ryan Cohen on Twitter

Jordan Holberg is an eccentric geek, gamer, decentralist, funny-guy, and now GameStop’s Principal Engineer, confirmed via Twitter and LinkedIn today. 

GameStop has revealed very little about what their Blockchain and NFT projects consist of. Upon finding Jordan Holberg, GameStop’s latest hire on LinkedIn, GMEdd was compelled to dig deeper.

You’re Hired

In Jordan’s hiring announcement, he reveals personal nostalgia for Babbage’s, the company that GameStop used to be. The gamer describes his childhood visits to the brick-and-mortar retailer, alongside his decentralized ideals.

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.

Holberg states that he believes working for the new GameStop is a truly unique opportunity, with a company at the center of the zeitgeist, well-positioned to make a significant and positive impact.

If I’m going back to full-time and potentially having to wear pants again, you know I’m excited.

The update makes it clear: Jordan is a nostalgic gamer with an impressive ecommerce and blockchain background.

The Principal Engineer shares his excited outlook for the future of GameStop, bridging “traditional ecommerce”, which he refers to as a legacy business, and blockchain, all wrapped up in what may be the most fun LinkedIn profile we’ve come across yet.

past experience

Jordan Holberg’s past indicates why he would be such a critical hire for the transforming gaming retailer. Jordan was Barneys.com’s first employee, granting him valuable experience working as a trailblazer in retail brick and mortar pivots to ecommerce. 

Holberg states some of his major accomplishments while growing Barneys New York:

  • $0 to $180 million+ revenue
  • Responsible for barneys.com front-end and technical back-end, including management of 30k+ active SKUs
  • Achieved highest EBITDA across all Barneys’ doors

After Barneys, he later moved on to contract work as a self-proclaimed Digital Fixer working for various high profile clients. Holberg states that his clients included: Ogilvy, TBWA/Chiat/Day, TOWN Real Estate, Extell, Vince Camuto, Jessica Simpson, BorderFree, Amway, IBM, and many others.

Jordan quipped in March, around the same time GameStop’s NFT project commenced, that his “head is full of use-cases and functionality NFT can unlock across finance, social media and gaming”.

He describes a project he had been building, named Hodlberg, that works to demonstrate his extensive knowledge of blockchain and NFTs.

Hodlberg Financial’s Official FAQ page states it lets one “attest” their cryptocurrency holdings and mint a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) on the Ethereum blockchain. The minted Hodlberg NFT aggregates all attested wallet balances into one convenient token, without compromising privacy. The balance and token data aggregated into your Hodlberg NFT is always up-to-date.

This allows for some interesting possibilities, including among other things, most notably for GameStop, “a unique, evolving, in-game asset”.

Eccentric As Hell

According to his LinkedIn, Holberg attended NYU from 1999-2002, where he was actually a cat donning a red headband.

Seriously. If you ever needed proof we live in a simulation, here it is.

The resemblance to famous GameStop investor Roaring Kitty does not end there.

Jordan Holberg really, really, loves cats.

His love for feline friends dates back at least 7 years, to this photo in an office space.

Jordan even has a personal website, jordanholberg.com, which features lolcatz language sprawled from top-to-bottom and a giant CLICK ME button in the famous impact font often used in meme culture.

When we saw this, we pondered what clicking the button will do. Could it reveal GameStop’s purpose for venturing into blockchain? 

Well, we clicked it, and it just plays Holberg’s favorite music.

Here are the songs you will hear if you sit on his website for long enough:

  • Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take a Look at me now)
  • Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl
  • Eddie Money – Take Me Home Tonight
  • Heart – Alone
  • Mike + the Mechanics – All I Need Is a Miracle
  • The Outfields – I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight
  • Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares To You
  • Asia – Heat of the Moment
  • Human League – Human
  • The Pretenders – I’ll Stand By You

Not only does Holberg’s site bring a sense of nostalgia to his work, his choice in music cannot be beat.

There is more to his homepage than you can see on the surface. Knowing his site will be crawling with speculative investors seeking clues and puzzle pieces, a quick search of the website’s code shows his humorous personality.

ooo look at you! so clever!

The headband-wearing, classic rock-playing, cat-loving blockchain dev should be a good fit for the GameStop NFTeam, who seem to have welcomed him with open arms, indicated by Finestone’s tweet.

Jordan also has his own YouTube channel with quirky, meme-worthy videos. Referring to himself as EvilJordan, he breaks societal norms for a business professional, posting a plethora of videos that range from him dancing shirtless to him playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and even his cats.

NFT Philosophy

Two months ago, Holberg allowed himself to be interviewed by Demetri Ravanos for Barrett Sports Media, where he told of his philosophies towards NFTs and their usages, primarily towards sports.

The article was titled, Is There Money In The NFT Fad For Sports Media Brands?, published on April 19, 2021.

Demetri states that in order to figure out the answer to the question, he asked his friend Jordan Holberg for help. Jordan and Demetri went school together from third grade until the end of high school. Demetri also claims that Jordan once made him laugh so hard he peed his pants.

When Demetri asked Jordan what NFTs offer a sports fan, the crypto-fanatic responded that the first thing that pops into his head is community. 

It’s dead-simple, at least in relative terms, to create a gated social community experience for NFT holders. It’s like a virtual ticket that isn’t forgeable, could be non-transferable, and has the potential to constantly make money for its issuer.

Jordan stated that he doesn’t have predictions on what will happen, but knows that NFTs have shown social media networks, company websites, and mobiles games are due for disruption.

Back to GameStop

In just one key hire, we can see, brick by brick, how Ryan Cohen’s road map to transformation is unfolding. Tallying up the over 70 key tech hires, the plan is in place. 

GameStop’s latest Principal Engineer believes that cryptocurrency and NFTs have opened up a whole new world of what it means to be a consumer of entertainment and culture, and, for the moment, the sky’s the limit.

We can see that Jordan’s accomplishments in e-commerce and blockchain are stacked, and he already looks to be fitting right in with the existing blockchain division. He also loves cats, is nostalgic for GameStop, and lives to meme. 

Despite being self-employed for almost a decade, Holberg is excited to return to full-time work. The decentralization geek believes that GameStop is a truly unique opportunity, with a company well-positioned to make a significant and positive impact. 

Let’s see what he makes of it.

Jenna, vestro, and Jack0 contributed. Toast edited and contributed.

Sources: Jordan Holberg on LinkedIn, Barrett Media, EvilJordan on YouTube, jordanholberg