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

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

GameStop has gone dark.

GMEdd.com has made it clear – LinkedIn is the place to see what GameStop is up to. In the midst of one of the “biggest transformations in history,” GameStop has refreshed their corporate branding alongside their corporate governance.

While other innovative companies opt for inviting colors, GameStop has gone bold – a sleek Black and White.

The company appears to believe their name says it all.

The gaming retailer’s consumer-facing branding has not changed at all; the signature bright red is still present on GameStop’s Twitter and Facebook profiles.

GameStop’s LinkedIn prior to today, displaying the slogan under George Sherman

GameStop’s Corporate Twitter also displays the refreshed branding, with the same header and icon as LinkedIn.

These brash differences between GameStop Corp. and GameStop the retailer seem to imply that GameStop intends on being much more than a gaming store, with possible divisions existing under the corporate hold.

Some speculate that the corporate branding change may solely be in recognition of Juneteenth, a United States federal holiday made famous by President Trump that commemorates the end of slavery.

While this is possible, it seems more likely to not be the case because GameStop does not have a past of recognizing holidays this way. Elliot Wilke, GameStop’s Chief Growth Officer, has also shown off a sweet black on black GameStop Corp. hoodie in the past, foreshadowing this sleek rebrand.

Source: GameStop on LinkedIn, GameStop Corp. on Twitter

GameStop’s hiring frenzy amid “one of the biggest online transformations in history,” continues, as LinkedIn unveils the latest VP of Merchandising from Amazon.

The “hiring frenzy” first coined by the now former VP, Marketing Evan Smith in a February 2021 post highlighted by GMEdd.com has reigned true, revealing GameStop’s success in acquiring new talent at a rate that can be compared to the likes of the hottest new startup.

One of GameStop’s favorites to poach from? Amazon.

Revealed on LinkedIn,  GameStop has now recruited  six-year Amazon veteran Rob Mayer to serve as GameStop’s Vice President of Merchandising, alongside the several other VPs of Merchandising with tech backgrounds.

At Amazon, Rob Mayer most recently served as Amazon’s Head of Vendor Management, Consumer Electronics. 

This supports the thesis that GameStop will likely continue to expand into a wider range of electronics, surpassing solely gaming hardware.

This isn’t where the story ends, though.

Upon the recruitment of Matt Francis as Chief Technology Officer in February 2021, GMEdd.com began keeping track of GameStop’s latest hires using data from LinkedIn. While our last story highlighting GameStop’s recruiting released in May, the company has since doubled their new talent.

View an updated and interactive version of this sheet at GMEdd.com Report & Models

GameStop has hired, from Amazon alone:

  • Matt Francis, Chief Technology Officer
  • Josh Krueger, Vice President of Fulfillment
  • Maggie McCanner, Sr. Director Product Management
  • Jenna Owens, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President
  • Neda Pacifico, Senior Vice President, Ecommerce
  • Elliott Wilke, Chief Growth Officer
  • Phil Landis, Director Ops Integration
  • Sean McHugh, Director of Environmental Health and Safety
  • Skyler Ramirez, Vice President, Instock
  • Joshua Flores, Inventory Specialist
  • Aaron Curtis, General Manager
  • Kristy Roach, Director IC/QA and Learning
  • John Crampton, Senior EHS Manager
  • Matt Furlong, Incoming Chief Executive Officer
  • Mike Rucepero, Incoming Chief Financial Officer

This indicates, from just what’s available to us publicly on LinkedIn, GameStop has poached double-digit Amazon employees, making an e-commerce centric pivot the clear trajectory.

Source: GameStop on LinkedIn

The 2021 GameStop Annual Shareholder Meeting has officially concluded, setting the stage for Q1 2021 Earnings at market close and the proceeding conference call at 5:00pm EST.

From 11:00am to 11:15am at 625 Westport Parkway, Grapevine, Texas, the gaming retailer’s board worked to confirm new nominees such as Larry Cheng, the first investor in Chewy and a mentor to Ryan Cohen.

Ryan Cohen, now officially chairman of the board, gave a speech via Zoom to the crowd of over 200 shareholders. GMEdd has transcribed the speech, available below.

Ryan Cohen’s Speech

…We ushered in a whole new era of GameStop. On a personal note, I want you to know I’m humbled to be elected to your board and serve as your Chairman. We have a lot of work in front of us, and it will take time.

We’re trying to do something that nobody in the retail space has ever done but we believe we’re putting the right pieces in place and we have clear goals: delighting customers and driving shareholder value for the longterm. The management team and refreshed board will remain totally focused on
these goals at all times.

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.

Here are a few things we’ve done so far: refresh the board, added technology and retail experience to the leadership team, paid off all our long term debt and strengthened the balance sheet, and begun laying the foundation for long term growth.

Moving forward, we want you to judge GameStop based on our actions, not our words. Thank you everyone, and as my dad would say, “buckle up.”

In an effort to give investors their Cohen-fix, Ryan spoke about the progress his team has made at GameStop.

Twitter update

Ryan Cohen has since changed his Twitter bio, proudly representing his new role at GameStop alongside his past at Chewy.

Now, investors eagerly await the Q1 2021 Earnings release, supplemental presentation, and conference call.

Source: gmegang1 on Twitter (photo), Ryan Cohen on Twitter

As the Chewification of GameStop continues, perhaps investors should take a closer look at the other Chewy co-founder Michael “Blake” Day and the potential for him to be involved, alongside Volition Capital.

Since reaching an agreement between RC Ventures and GameStop in January, Ryan Cohen has worked almost entirely behind-the-scenes on transforming the retailer, with investors uncertain as to who he consults with towards strategic moves. By looking at Cohen’s past, and the breadcrumbs along the way, GMEdd is able to make a few educated guesses.

Chewy’s “Other” Co-Founder

Chewy.com was founded in 2011 by Ryan Cohen and Michael “Blake” Day, hereby referred to as Blake. We know enough about Ryan’s past from the various interviews he has given recalling his time at the pet-focused E-commerce giant, however, we don’t know much about the other founder, Blake. Could he also be involved in the GameStop story?

Blake does not leave much of a trail on the internet. He has a Facebook page, but it doesn’t have a public profile picture. It doesn’t look like he’s on Twitter or Instagram. He does have a LinkedIn page.

Blake’s LinkedIn shows that he was Co-Founder & CTO of Chewy until April 2018, just a month after it was announced Ryan Cohen would be stepping down as CEO. Both Blake and Ryan remained with the company for a year after a $3B payday from PetSmart in 2017.

From past interviews with Ryan Cohen, we know the founders first met through an online Java chat room and shared similar visions for a groundbreaking e-commerce business before starting Chewy.com together, but insight on Blake remains limited beyond this.

In a TechCrunch interview in 2019, Ryan Cohen was asked,

Would you partner again with Michael on a different e-commerce business or maybe a venture outfit?

to which Ryan Cohen responded,

We’re really close. It needs to be the right opportunity obviously, and we need to be picky. But I have no plans to sit in retirement, that’s for sure. I’m 33 and I’m competitive and I like consumer businesses and I like to win.

Ryan is arguably in the midst of his biggest venture yet, so you have to wonder what his former business partner is up to these days.

Back to Blake’s LinkedIn page: The last activity on his account was a liked post from 4 years ago, when Blake still worked for Chewy… until 4 months ago when Blake liked a post sharing a Forbes article about Chewy’s exceptional customer service, dated none other than January 29th, 2021.

Interestingly enough, January 28th was the day buying of NYSE:GME was restricted across several major brokerages including Robinhood. During this time, GameStop was all over the news. Blake knows how to lay low, as indicated by so little out there on the internet about him, but if anything, this recent activity shows he is still using LinkedIn, and coincidentally while one of his former cohorts is at the center of a historical financial market controversy.

Despite Chewy’s headquarters being based in Florida, the company established a small team based in Boston, beginning in temporary spaces before leasing their own 20,000 square foot space in 2017. According to Cohen, Boston was an attractive location to poach tech talent:

Boston is an amazing technology hub and startup hub, with dozens of universities. There’s just a ton of talent. We looked at all of the major US cities when we were planning this office, and Boston was the most competitive — either equal to or better than anywhere else.

Blake Day, serving as the CTO, ran the Boston location. He gave an interview to VentureFizz about the move to Boston, and one might say he sounds a lot like Cohen:

Samantha Rassner served as Chewy’s Vice President of Software Development from September 2015 to February 2018. In a LinkedIn blog post on her exit of the company, Samantha Rassner recounts Blake’s visionary speech. Blake and Ryan sound one and the same here as well.

Chewy’s First Investor

Larry Cheng, co-founder and managing partner of Volition Capital, was the first major investor to back Chewy after the company was turned down numerous times by other firms.

Larry’s investment through Volition was key to the growth and expansion of the company, and as a result, Larry and Ryan remain “fast friends.” While GameStop is a different story than Chewy,  it’s not crazy to think that Volition Capital and Larry Cheng have long been involved in mentoring the turnaround based on these facts alone.

In fact, when Ryan Cohen tweeted a picture of an ice cream cone on February 24, 2021, some drew the connection that it could refer to Volition Capital’s website citing Chewy’s first official board meeting including McDonald’s soft serve. 

Who else would have been present at the first official board meeting? The Co-Founder of course, Blake Day.

Timelines Suggest Volition was Clued in on Ryan’s Plans

Ryan Cohen filed his first 13D for GameStop via RC Ventures LLC on August 28, 2020, disclosing an initial 9% stake. This sparked waves, particularly within value investor circles, as many pondered the E-commerce guru’s investment motives.

What few realize is that Cohen didn’t initially invest in August 2020, but much earlier in April 2019. This can be deduced from the initial 13D, through share counts and averages based on implied price. Rod Alzmann of GMEdd.com states that when he inquired with GameStop last year, investor relations confirmed that Cohen had held $GME since April 2019. 

Just one week after Ryan’s public disclosure, on September 4th, 2020, Volition Capital published an insight piece titled Gaming as a Service and Why it Matters, authored by one of the firm’s associates, Claude de Jocas. This also appears to be the first piece of gaming related research the firm has released.

Over the next few weeks, Ryan added to his position twice more until reaching a 9.98% stake, disclosed September 21. Weeks later, on October 9, Volition released a video where Claude de Jocas discusses the future of internet gaming and its growth potential.

Skip ahead just one month, and on November 17, Ryan filed an amendment to his 13D with an attached letter to the GameStop board urging the company to share a credible plan for seizing opportunities in the rapidly growing gaming sector.

PR Blitz

Ryan Cohen was far from being a household name in August of 2020 when he filed his initial stake in GameStop, so many investors started researching him to get a feel for what his plan was. At the time, Ryan had established a website, ryan-cohen.com, that embedded various media appearances and formal interviews the Chewy co-founder had given, but it has since been shut down in December of 2020.

Had the website done its job? 

Retail investing icon Roaring Kitty first stumbles upon Ryan Cohen’s rudimentary homepage during an August 28th, 2020 livestream.  At the time, the deep value investor was merely trying to learn more about the Chewy founder. Most of the content was posted on the site between mid-2019, around Chewy’s IPO and Cohen’s initial GameStop investment, and mid-2020.

Investors could speculate that this may have been a coordinated PR blitz campaign before revealing a large stake in a public company, one that he had already been discreetly acquiring.

Each interview Cohen conducted provided valuable insight into his business strategy, and much of how he described Chewy’s story and his vision could also be applied to GameStop. Was this intentional? In one September 2019 post on Medium, when asked about what’s next, Ryan hinted at something being on the horizon.

I’m only 34, so I certainly haven’t peaked as an entrepreneur yet. Stay tuned.

For more, check out GMEdd.com/report-model for a compiled model featuring all of Ryan Cohen’s known media appearances and formal interviews.

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

Fast-forward to 2021 and Ryan Cohen now owns 12.9% of GameStop, joins the board, a proclaimed short squeeze event arises national coverage on the retailer prompting a series of congressional hearings, and suddenly everyone knows about r/wallstreetbets.

Amid all of this attention, the company remains quiet but starts undergoing rapid transformation, which was initially visible from the Investor Relations page, but now only seen through activity on LinkedIn — there have been over 30 new hires in tech and E-commerce positions starting in February, just a month after Cohen joined the GameStop board.

Strategic Advisory

On March 2nd, 2021, Volition Capital launched a new Strategic Advisory Board that, “will provide focused guidance to the firm and its portfolio companies regarding strategic direction, investments, executive hiring and development, due-diligence, network and operational strategy, among other areas.” Volition states that the firm had been working on assembling this board for almost a year.

So a venture firm launched a strategic advisory board. Who cares?

Wait, that name is familiar…

That’s right. As of March 2021, Blake is now at the helm of Volition’s Strategic Advisory Board. Blake has largely laid low since his Chewy departure and still lives in Fort Lauderdale according to his Volition Capital bio.

This appears to be the first public role he has taken since leaving Chewy in 2018. Cohencidence?

Volition’s second listed Strategic Advisory Board Member is Raul Fernandez, who serves as Vice Chairman and Owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which is a private partnership of Washington DC’s major sports franchises including eSports teams.

Early GameStop investors will recognize Raul’s name, because they will have seen it before as well.

GameStop’s May 2020 “Driving Value For All Stockholders” notes that Raul Fernandez serves on GameStop’s board to provide insight into the world of professional eSports on slide 32. 

GameStop claims that Raul Fernandez was appointed to the board  under an agreement with Hestia Capital Partners, L.P. (“Hestia Capital”) and Permit Capital Enterprise Fund, L.P.  (“Permit Capital”), lead by currently outgoing GameStop director and atypical shareholder activist Kurt Wolf.

Hestia Capital and Permit Capital, together with their affiliates, beneficially owned approximately 1.3% of GameStop at this point, and Kurt Wolf, as their Managing Partner, had just sent a letter to GameStop’s board calling for a corporate refresh.

Wolf had been advocating for GameStop’s board to adapt to the times and transform from an underperforming retailer into a forward-thinking company that emphasized long-term growth. He later insists that Raul was placed on the board without any involvement or communication with Permit/Hestia in a May 2020 Restore GameStop presentation deck.

While the GameStop board claimed they began to cooperate with Hestia/Permit in April of 2019, Ryan Cohen began purchasing his initial position in the gaming retailer.

Fernandez still currently serves on GameStop’s board, and filings reveal he will be stepping down at the Annual General Meeting on June 9th, as Ryan Cohen takes the reigns as incoming Chairman of the Board. 

On April 8th, 2021, just one month after Blake and Raul’s appointment to Volition’s Strategic Advisory Board, GameStop announced Larry Cheng from Volition Capital as a candidate for its board of directors for the company’s upcoming annual meeting .

What now?

There’s no denying that GameStop and Volition could be tied together in some way. Larry Cheng, Volition’s Managing Partner, will likely be granted his seat on GameStop’s board in June, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Blake come out of secrecy in the future as well. 

The big question remains: What are these guys planning?

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

Sources: Chewy on Crunchbase, Michael Day on LinkedIn, Vox, TechCrunch, Forbes, BostonGlobe, VentureFizz, inc.com, Samantha Rassner on LinkedIn, Larry Cheng Profile at Volition Capital, Chewy’s Portfolio at Volition Capital, Ryan Cohen on Twitter, Volition Capital Vimeo, Wayback MachineSEC Report, Volition Capital Vimeo, RC Ventures Letter to the Board, Medium, Volition Capital, Investor.GameStop.com, GameStop News Release, GameStop News Release