GameStop pares early gains after saying it plans to elect Reddit favorite Ryan Cohen as chairman

ryan cohen millennial activist investor 2x1

GameStop shares rose on Thursday after the company announced it intends to elect activist investor Ryan Cohen as chairman, but quickly pared their gains.

The video-game retailer also nominated five other people for the board – including private equity executive Larry Cheng and Kraft Heinz senior vice president Yang Xu – as it tries to reinvent itself as an e-commerce force.

GameStop’s board also appointed one of those nominees, Jim Grube, to serve on the strategic planning committee. Grube was chief financial officer at Chewy, the online pet supply retailer founded by Cohen.

Voting on the board nominees will take place at the company’s annual meeting of stockholders on June 9, the company said in a statement before markets opened.

Cohen has become an increasingly powerful figure at GameStop in recent months. The billionaire’s RC Ventures first invested in GameStop in September 2020, and is one of the biggest shareholders.

GameStop stock opened around 4% higher but quickly fell back. It stood 0.44% lower at $177.38 at 10.10 a.m. ET.

Cohen was first appointed to the board in January, which analysts have cited as one of the catalysts for the dramatic rise in the stock which captured the markets’ attention at the start of the year.

He has since seized control of the company’s strategy, hiring numerous executives with backgrounds in online retailing in an effort to turn the flagging company around.

On Monday, GameStop said it plans to sell as many as 3.5 million shares to raise up to $1 billion to help fund Cohen’s transformation plans.

Separately on Monday, GameStop said preliminary global sales during the first nine weeks of fiscal 2021 increased by about 11% from the period a year earlier.

Read more: Goldman Sachs handpicks 40 stocks that will enjoy bigger earnings growth than Wall Street expects in 2021

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Chewy shares leap 13% after surprise swing to quarterly profit

Chewy Taco Cat Halloween Costume
  • Chewy shares climbed by 13% Wednesday following the fourth-quarter results from the pet-products seller.
  • The company swung to a profit of $0.05 a share, surprising analysts who had expected a loss of $0.10 a share.
  • Chewy’s first-quarter sales forecast of $2.11 billion to $2.13 billion was above Wall Street’s target.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of Chewy jumped Wednesday after the online pet-products retailer unexpectedly swung to a fourth-quarter profit, bolstered by millions of more people last year who took on duties of caring for animals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company late Tuesday posted fourth-quarter earnings of $0.05 a share, compared with expectations for a loss of $0.10 a share in a survey of analysts by Refinitiv. A year earlier, Chewy posted a per-share loss of $0.15.

Sales of $2.04 billion beat Wall Street’s target of $1.96 billion as the company dealt with “surging volume”. Sales a year ago were $1.35 billion.

Chewy shares climbed by 13% to $90.95, a move that sets up the stock to trim its year-to-date loss to less than 1%. The stock price began to decelerate in early February but it’s more than doubled from about $36 over the past 12 months.

The company added 5.7 million net active customers in 2020, representing 42.7% annual growth. It also said it widened its product offerings to include gift cards, personalized items, and vet services. “Pet adoptions surged in 2020 as millions of homebound people and families sought out the comfort, companionship, and joy of pet parenthood” during the pandemic, the company said.

Chewy forecast first-quarter sales of $2.11 billion to $2.13 billion, higher than the average analyst forecast of $2.07 billion.

Wedbush analysts on Wednesday raised their price target to $100 from $90 and reiterated their outperform rating on Chewy following the company’s “solid earnings beat, above-consensus guidance, and a path to a 2021 beat and even higher long-term earnings power.”

Chewy’s cofounder and former chief executive, Ryan Cohen, is leading a turnaround effort at video game retailer and Reddit-community favorite GameStop.

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GameStop just made its third hire from Amazon as the game retailer continues poaching new executives from the tech giant

gamestop store ps5
  • GameStop is reshaping its executive suite around former Amazon leaders.
  • The company’s latest hire is Elliott Wilke, who will serve as chief growth officer at GameStop.
  • Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is leading a committee overseeing the changes at GameStop.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Yet another former Amazon leader is joining GameStop’s rapidly changing C-suite: Elliott Wilke will serve as the company’s new chief growth officer starting in April.

Wilke, who oversaw a variety of initiatives at Amazon, joins former Amazon fulfillment director Jenna Owens (COO) and former Amazon Web Services engineering lead Matt Francis (CTO) on GameStop’s executive team.

The executive shakeup at the ailing video game retailer comes amid a company-wide “transformation” overseen by board member and activist investor Ryan Cohen.

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.”

That transformation has led to major changes in the company’s executive suite and its board.

CEO George Sherman is the only remaining board 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.

Similarly, the board has seen major changes – Cohen and two of his former colleagues from Chewy, the company he cofounded and ran, occupy three of the board’s five seats.

Ryan Cohen - Chewy
Ryan Cohen.

Alongside the hiring of Wilke, GameStop announced two additional hires from Cohen’s former company: The former Chewy VPs of merchandising, Tom Petersen, and marketing, Andrea Wolfe, are joining GameStop in similar roles.

Cohen himself has kept quiet across the last several months, but he’s taken to Twitter to share 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 did not respond to requests for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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GameStop climbs as Ryan Cohen-led revamp continues with hire of Amazon exec as chief growth officer

ryan cohen millennial activist investor 2x1
  • Shares of GameStop rose 5% on Tuesday after the company announced the appointment of Elliott Wilke as chief growth officer.
  • Wilke will join the company on April 5 after a seven-year stint with Amazon.
  • GameStop also named Andrea Wolfe as vice president of brand development and Tom Petersen as vice president of merchandising.
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Shares of GameStop rose 5% on Tuesday after the video game retailer announced the appointment of Elliott Wilke as chief growth officer, boosting the company’s to pivot to e-commerce driven by board member and former Chewy CEO Ryan Cohen.

Wilke will join the company on April 5 after a seven-year stint with Amazon where he held senior roles in Amazon Fresh, Prime Pantry, and Worldwide Private Brands. At GameStop, he will oversee growth strategies and marketing, with a focus on increasing customer loyalty.

GameStop also named Andrea Wolfe, former Chewy vice president of marketing, as vice president of brand development, and Tom Petersen, former Chewy vice president of merchandising, as vice president of merchandising. Both executives started on March 29.

Cohen has been vocal about turning the video game retailer that was at the center of the Reddit-trader phenomenon into an e-commerce powerhouse.

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

The Grapevine, Texas-based company earlier in March also named Jenna Owens, a former Amazon executive, as chief operating officer. Owens also used to work at Google.

GameStop’s appointment of Wilke and other industry veterans marks yet another recruitment by the once-struggling video game retailer ever since the mania in January. The company-which sells video game hardware, video game accessories, electronics products, among others-found itself suffering as more people download games, significantly reducing customer footprint in physical stores.

Despite the massive hype, the video game retailer’s fourth-quarter earnings last week missed Wall Street’s estimates in the first financial report since the Reddit-driven rally.

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GameStop knows its stock is ‘extremely volatile’ – but leadership says it’s completely out of their control

gamestop store ps5
  • On Thursday, GameStop finally acknowledged the ongoing short squeeze driving its stock price up.
  • GameStop leadership said the stock is “extremely volatile” and out of their control in an SEC filing.
  • The squeeze that began in mid-January has extended into late March, with no signs of stopping.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

GameStop said Tuesday that its stock is -and continues to be – “extremely volatile.”

Moreover, that volatility is “due to numerous circumstances beyond our control.”

The statement in a regulatory filing is the first such statement from GameStop leadership on its ongoing stock price fiasco that’s seen its shares rise as much as 1600% in a matter of weeks.

Under the “risk factors” section of the annual report, the company’s stock volatility is listed as the primary risk factor related to the company’s stock. It specifically cites “short squeezes” as a primary reason for that volatility.

“The market price of our Class A Common Stock has been extremely volatile and may continue to be volatile due to numerous circumstances beyond our control,” GameStop said in the filing.

Gamestop
A 12-month chart of GameStop’s stock value demonstrates the meteoric rises and catastrophic falls of the last few months.

GameStop’s stock value has been explosively unpredictable since mid-January.

Between January 15 and January 27, the price leapt from around $35 to just shy of $350. It’s seen similarly huge dropoffs, but months later it’s still in the $180 range.

The reason, of course, is the much discussed “short squeeze” from a large group of individual investors driving up the company’s stock price in an effort to defeat short sellers betting against the stock. It’s been a major topic of discussion for the past several months for loads of people in media and on Wall Street – except for GameStop leadership.

The company has more or less stayed mum for weeks, and even declined to discuss it on its quarterly earnings call this past week. Instead company leadership focused on the company’s ongoing “transformation” led by Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen.

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

It is unclear what Cohen’s specific plans are the future of the company, but he broadly outlined plans in an open letter to the company’s board in late 2020.

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

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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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.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

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.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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With GameStop’s stock price still exploding, the ailing game retailer is considering selling new units to fund its future

WallStreetBets logo
WallStreetBets is the name of the popular Reddit forum where the initial GameStop short squeeze began.

  • GameStop’s stock price is still wildly inflated at just over $180 per share as of Tuesday afternoon.
  • The ailing retailer may take advantage of that inflated price by selling new units, it said Tuesday.
  • Those sales would fund the company’s ongoing “transformation” led by activist investor Ryan Cohen.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Ailing video game retailer GameStop has yet to cash in on the ongoing stock bubble impact its stock.

As of Tuesday afternoon, GameStop was trading at just over $180 per share – a tenfold increase over where it was before the bubble. But that could be about to change, according to a new SEC filing from GameStop.

“Since January 2021,” the filing says, in reference to when the stock bubble emerged, GameStop leadership has been “evaluating” whether it should “potentially sell shares.”

Read more: These are the kinds of charlatans who show up when Wall Street gets weird

One major issue with GameStop selling its own stock during a bubble is, of course, perception: GameStop leadership knows the current stock value is massively inflated, and selling stock right now could look pretty bad.

The filing acknowledges as much with a list of factors that are impacting its decision, including “capital needs and alternative sources and costs of capital available to us, market perceptions about us, and the then current trading price.”

Any money the company made from those sales could be used “to fund the acceleration of our future transformation initiatives,” the filing says. GameStop is currently amidst a “transformation” led by activist investor, board member, and former Chewy CEO Ryan Cohen.

As the leader of a new committee at the company, Cohen is attempting to do for GameStop what he did with Chewy: take on and defeat Amazon in a specific category of ecommerce.

At Chewy, it was pets. At GameStop, of course, it’s gaming.

ryan cohen millennial activist investor 2x1
Activist investor Ryan Cohen, of RC Ventures, owns 12.9% of GameStop’s shares.

Just over two years ago, in early 2019, GameStop’s stock value fell off a cliff: It dropped from about $16 per share to under $4.

And it stayed in that range for just shy of two years.

Even in 2020, while the video-game business (including GameStop) had huge gains during coronavirus lockdowns, GameStop’s stock price remained in the gutter. As recently as last August, the largest video-game retail chain in the world had a stock value of less than $5 per share.

But in the second half of 2020, with big financial names like Cohen and Michael Burry buying up shares in the ailing retailer, things started looking up. The company’s share value gradually increased until it outright surpassed its pre-collapse value in late 2020.

And then things got really weird: Between January 20 and January 26, GameStop’s stock value leaped from just over $35 per share to north of $140 per share. By January 27, it hit new highs of over $325 per share – an over 8,000% increase from just a few months ago.

Two months later, it’s late March and GameStop’s stock value still hasn’t returned to pre-bubble levels: As of this afternoon, it was trading at just over $180.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Despite GameStop’s stock boom, the company is still struggling – take a look inside Ryan Cohen’s ambitious plan to ‘transform’ the retailer into the Amazon of gaming

Ryan Cohen - Chewy
Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is now the head of RC Ventures, an investment firm that’s taken a 12% stake in GameStop.

  • Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is the largest individual GameStop shareholder.
  • He’s also a board member, and is intent on turning the company into the Amazon of gaming.
  • Cohen is already making major moves at the company, and he has big plans for the future.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

What does Ryan Cohen want with GameStop?

That’s the big, unanswered question at the heart of his 12.9% ownership stake in the company – an investment he made well before GameStop became a meme stock.

Cohen, who cofounded Chewy and acted as CEO before it sold to PetSmart for $3.35 billion in 2017, does not have a background in the video game industry. His claim to fame is outfoxing Amazon at its own game – e-commerce – in a specific category: pets. That’s an especially meaningful claim to fame when it comes to Wall Street, which saw Cohen’s involvement in the company as a reason to buy the ailing retailer’s stock before Reddit found it.

Read more: Ryan Cohen made millions when Chewy got acquired. Now the millennial entrepreneur has a plan to turn around GameStop.

But Cohen is no casual investor in GameStop – he’s a member of the board, and an activist investor who has successfully lobbied the company to follow his advice several times thus far. He is clearly in this for the long term.

Though the lingering question of “Why GameStop?” remains unanswered, we know a lot about Cohen’s plans for the future of the company.

1. Cohen wants GameStop to become a technology company, with a focus on ecommerce over brick-and-retail stores.

gamestop store
A GameStop Corp. store on November 5, 2013 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cohen’s investment firm, RC Ventures, owns 12.9% of GameStop. That stake makes it the second-largest single shareholder of GameStop.

Those shares cost tens of millions of dollars, and they put Cohen in a position to more directly engage with the company’s leadership. But those private conversations apparently didn’t go very well.

“Given that our attempts to privately engage with you since the summer have yielded little progress, we feel compelled to send a clear message to the Board today,” Cohen wrote in an open letter aimed at GameStop’s board of directors published in November 2020.

“GameStop’s leadership should immediately conduct a strategic review of the business,” he said, “and share a credible plan for seizing the tremendous opportunities in the rapidly-growing gaming sector.” 

The letter, overwhelmingly, focused on the company’s need to transition to ecommerce.

“GameStop’s challenges stem from internal intransigence and an unwillingness to rapidly embrace the digital economy,” the letter said. “GameStop 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.”

2. He wants to reshape the company’s leadership, and has already begun doing just that.

GameStop CFO Jim Bell
Former GameStop CFO Jim Bell was ousted from the company in late February.

Throughout his letter, Cohen directly criticizes the company’s leadership — both its executive suite and its board of directors, to whom the letter is addressed.

GameStop CEO and board member George 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, and 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.”

That criticism appeared to have a major impact, as GameStop announced in early January that Cohen and two of his former Chewy lieutenants would become new members of the board. Pending a vote in June, the trio will make up one-third of the board’s membership.

Soon after Cohen joined the board, major c-suite changes began.

Amazon vet Matt Francis was hired on as the CTO in early February. A former Amazon Web Services engineering lead, he’s tasked with, “overseeing e-commerce and technology functions” for GameStop.

Then, in late February, CFO Jim Bell was suddenly forced out of his role at the company. The board of directors “lost faith” in Bell, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke with Insider.

3. Cohen is in charge of a newly announced committee that intends to “transform” the company.

Ryan Cohen - Chewy

Just this week, GameStop announced that Cohen is in charge of a new committee at the company that intends to, “identify initiatives that can further accelerate the company’s transformation.”

The “Strategic Planning and Capital Allocation Committee” is tasked with “identifying actions that can transform GameStop into a technology business and help create enduring value for stockholders,” GameStop said in a press release on March 8.

If that language sounds familiar, that’s because it’s very similar to the language used by Cohen in his letter to the board last November.

The group — which includes Cohen, former Chewy exec Alan Attal, and activist investor Kurt Wolf — was seemingly created to carry out the changes proposed by Cohen last year.

4. One potential for GameStop’s future: online trade-ins.

GameStop Clerk
A customer laughs with a clerk as he purchases a copy of the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV” at a GameStop store in New York

In September 2020, when Cohen initially purchased a significant chunk of the company’s shares, he privately proposed a plan to the board to focus GameStop on e-commerce opportunities.

One example of those opportunities is tied to GameStop’s core business: reselling used games.

Cohen reportedly proposed an online version of the retailer’s (in)famous game trade-in program.

During those talks, he proposed a major expansion of GameStop’s online footprint, according to Bloomberg. Beyond just games, GameStop’s online store would offer “a wide range of merchandise,” the report said, and prioritize fast shipping.

Cohen has yet to publicly spell out his specific plans, and his representative didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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GameStop spikes 14% after announcing board member Ryan Cohen will lead its transition to e-commerce

ryan cohen millennial activist investor 2x1

Shares in GameStop rose 14% in regular trading Monday after the company announced board member and Chewy founder Ryan Cohen will lead its strategic transformation.

Cohen has been appointed chairperson of a planning committee that aims to transition the company to an e-commerce business. Members of the committee include Alan Attal, Kurt Wolf, and Cohen himself.

Cohen has been actively pushing for the company to gravitate away from its traditional brick-and-mortar model to an Amazon-like e-commerce titan.

Since the committee’s formation, they appointed Amazon vet Matt Francis as CTO, hired two executives to lead the customer care and e-commerce fulfillment functions, and have been seeking a replacement for prior CFO Jim Bell. Bloomberg reported earlier on Monday Cohen would be tapped for the role.

Shares in GameStop rose more than 1,600% in January after a wave of Reddit-fuelled retail traders rebelled against Wall Street hedge funds that were betting against the stock. 

Shares were up as much as 14% in regular trading at $157.05 per share.

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GameStop bucks market sell-off with 19% surge as Reddit chatter picks up

Reddit

Shares of GameStop surged 19% on Thursday, bucking a broader market slump amid a massive sell-off as the chatter on Reddit appeared to gain traction yet again. 

Wiping out its earlier losses, GameStop rose to its highest level since the beginning of February, when the frenzy surrounding the video game retailer lost steam following the massive short squeeze that drove prices up in January.

The spike Thursday came later in the session, when several Reddit users on the Wall Street Bets subreddit began posting consecutively, rallying behind the stock. 

Among the most popular posts was published on Thursday morning saying “GME IS UNSTOPPABLE,” which received more than 10,000 upvotes, the equivalent of “likes” on other social media platforms.

At around the same time, Ryan Cohen, a GameStop board member, tweeted a photo resembling a stuffed toy from a Pets.com advertisement. Some users in the comments interpreted the post as a positive outlook for the video game company.

GameStop closed higher by 6.10%, at $131.76 on Thursday. 

Other meme stocks such as AMC Entertainment and Koss however joined the rest of the market, closing lower for the day. The Nasdaq 100 erased gains for the year, plummeting from its February 12 peak.

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