“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

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’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

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

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

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

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

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