Wall Street darling Ryan Cohen is clearing house at GameStop, bringing in e-commerce experts to transform it into the Amazon of gaming

ryan cohen millennial activist investor 2x1
Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen.

  • Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is bringing big changes to GameStop’s leadership.
  • By June, Cohen and his colleagues will control the majority of the company’s board.
  • Cohen has also overseen major changes to the company’s executive suite.
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The co-founder and CEO who convinced Wall Street that pets are big business has a new pet project: Turning GameStop into the Amazon of gaming.

After taking a 12.9% stake last year through his investment firm RC Ventures, Cohen has made major changes at GameStop. First, he oversaw a string of c-suite departures and hirings. Then, he was appointed leader of a new committee overseeing a company-wide “transformation.” Now, he’s taking over the company’s board.

A whopping eight board members are stepping down, GameStop said regulatory filing on Wednesday. That leaves only Cohen, his former Chewy colleagues Jim Grube and Alan Attal, kindred spirit/activist investor Kurt Wolf, and current CEO George Sherman as board members.

From a board that currently has 13 members, the new GameStop board of directors will have just five. And at least four of those five members are working together: Cohen, Grube, Attal, and Wolf.

Notably, former Nintendo of America president and well-known video game personality Reggie Fils-Aimé is among the board members stepping down in June. He lasted just over a year in the position.

Reggie Fils Aime Nintendo Switch
Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé.

As for the executive team, CEO George Sherman is the only remaining member from before Cohen got involved with the company. Jim Bell, the company’s CFO, is said to have been pushed to resign by the company’s board. Soon after, CCO Frank Hamlin resigned.

Cohen openly criticized Sherman, his c-suite, and GamesStop’s directors in a letter to the board about the company’s overall direction in late 2020.

Sherman, “appears committed to a twentieth-century focus on physical stores and walk-in sales, despite the transition to an always-on digital world,” Cohen said. He added that the board lacks “the type of strategic vision” necessary for GameStop, “to pivot toward becoming a technology-driven business that excels in the gaming and digital experience worlds.”

In his letter, Cohen said the company, “needs to evolve into a technology company that delights gamers and delivers exceptional digital experiences – not remain a video game retailer that overprioritizes its brick-and-mortar footprint and stumbles around the online ecosystem.”

Since Cohen joined the company’s board in January, taking charge of a “strategic” committee soon after, the company has made a string of high-profile hires from the likes of Amazon and – you guessed it – Chewy.

  • Former Amazon Web Services engineering lead Matt Francis was hired in February as the company’s new chief technology officer.
  • Former Amazon fulfillment director Jenna Owens was hired in March to serve as the company’s new chief of operations.
  • Alongside Owens’ hiring, Chewy’s former ecommerce lead Neda Pacifico was hired on as senior VP of ecommerce in March.

Cohen himself has kept quiet across the last several months.

He has repeatedly declined interview requests, and his Twitter timeline is primarily GIFs and images. His most recent tweet is a GIF from the movie “Ted,” of the titular character smoking a bong. On the most recent GameStop earnings call, Cohen did not appear.

Representatives for Cohen and GameStop did not respond to requests for comment as of publishing.

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