Meme stock king Ryan Cohen is taking control of Gamestop.
The Chewy founder, who already serves as chairman of the board and owns roughly 12% of the company’s stock, has been named president and CEO of the video game retailer. The company has been without a chief executive since June when it terminated former Amazon executive Matt Furlong.
Cohen will not draw a salary for the role.
Cohen has been looking to revive the once dominant brand since 2021, when he forced out the executive team at GameStop and assumed the chairman’s role. He has pushed the company to embrace e-commerce and launched a marketplace for NFTs, though neither effort has met with much success. He has come under fire from some investors (and analysts) for not announcing a substantial turnaround plan almost two years after taking control of the company
His efforts haven’t been a complete failure. GameStop reported a quarterly increase in sales earlier this month as well as a smaller loss. And investors initially welcomed the news Cohen would be solely in charge of the company. Shares spiked 9% when the announcement was made, though have surrendered most of those gains in early trading Thursday.
Analysts weren’t impressed by the news.
“Mr. Cohen’s Board is hand picked (mostly colleagues from Chewy), suggesting that his appointment was more of a coronation by his believers,” wrote Wedbush’s Michael Pachter in a note to investors. “We remain convinced that GameStop is doomed, as declining physical software sales and a shift of sales to subscriptions and digital downloads seal its fate.”
GameStop, of course, was the original meme stock and remains popular with members of Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets community. Shares at the start of 2021 traded for less than $20, eventually spiking as high as $344. (Since the beginning of the rally, share prices have increased over 500% and returned the company to the Fortune 500 in 2021.)
Cohen was also an investor in Bed Bath & Beyond, making that retailer a meme stock, but angered investors last year after completely withdrawing his position days after having indicated in a regulatory filing he was in the company for the long term. That led some investors to call for an SEC probe into Cohen’s actions, with some concerned Cohen might have manipulated the markets with his trades.