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.

Consider donating to support research and buy our contributors a coffee.

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

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

Found due to internet sleuths, NFT.GameStop.com unveils what will become GameStop’s venture into the rapidly growing crypto and non-fungible token space.

GMEdd.com covered in April how GameStop was beginning to look for talent in this sector, and it is now official.

The website, although minimal, asks for those interested in working on the project to reach out. 

GameStop looks to be working with Ethereum’s chain for this project, judging by their usage of the Ethereum logo.

A potential slogan for the project is also unveiled:

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

There is also a crypto wallet address listed on the site, featuring the gamer code “1337.” The address begins with 1337420.

0x13374200c29C757FDCc72F15Da98fb94f286d71e

Etherscan.io reveals that this address is associated with a GameStop Token, and also features an ascii-art message for those “anons” who took the time to look it up.

Within the source code, on line 936, the launch date of GameStop Token is revealed, in unicode: 1626261600

This indicates that GameStop token has a public launch date of July 14th, 2021, at 4:20 AM PT.

Etherscan.io also reveals that the first GameStop Token was minted only 28 minutes after Ryan Cohen’s American Dad .gif tweet last night. A total of .42069 ETH was transferred to a multisignature wallet contract, which is a way of setting up a wallet that may need more than one signature to authorize transactions.

{ 
"description": "Gamestop NFT", 
"external_url": "nft.gamestop.com",
 "image": "ipfs://QmaLEchFaE7FWhc4MCvYMqoTdK8rV1yfjEC5Bz4jzQRbjS",
 "name": "Gamestop NFT" 
}

Engineers and nerds alike have discovered that GameStop is hosting this webpage on IPFS, an incredibly forward-thinking initiative for the company. IPFS is essentially a decentralized internet, which protects developers from single-point-of-failure risks. You can read more on it here on ipfs.io. 

Christopher Bell, GameStop’s Senior Product Manager, Blockchain & Smart Contracts, has announced that he’s happy to be a part of the NFTeam at GameStop. 

Power to the Players!

Hidden in the top right of the webpage is a dead pixel that links to a game reminiscent of the dinosaur jumping game from Google Chrome, but this time it’s a banyana, a cat in a banana. This is likely a nod to Roaring Kitty and the “ape” movement.

In the game, the further you progress, the closer you arrive to a full moon in the sky.

Source: GameStop NFT, Etherscan.io


June 2nd 2021 Editorial Update:  Clarification on the first GameStop Token transaction.

In an otherwise typical job posting from April 8th, 2021, GameStop inadvertently expressed interest in the booming non-fungible tokens market, alongside blockchain and cryptocurrency.

The Analyst, Security is responsible for monitoring and maintaining data and platform confidentiality, integrity and availability in an enterprise environment. 

Listed under Additional Skills and Experience, GameStop asks that applicants have experience in:

  • Blockchain, cryptocurrency, or non-fungible tokens
  • Machine learning or artificial intelligence
  • eCommerce
  • Cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, GCP)
  • eSports or competitive gaming

What could GameStop be building?

Any sort of NFT announcements, or even rumors, now result in massive catalysts for public companies. It is likely that Ryan Cohen knows this, and is possibly looking into the roles GameStop could play in this emerging industry.

Several weeks ago, stock market analyst and acclaimed author Tony Oz published a video detailing what effect he believes a GameStop NFT announcement would have on the stock price. This is pure speculation, so take it with a grain of salt, but investors may deem it worth a watch.

Take a look at the latest GameStop job listings and let us know if you find anything else worth noting.

Source: Careers.GameStop.com