Wall Street darling Ryan Cohen is leading a new initiative to turn GameStop into the Amazon of gaming

Ryan Cohen - Chewy
Chewy founder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is a board member and minority stakeholder in GameStop. Courtesy of Ryan Cohen
  • Ailing video game retailer GameStop has a new initiative led by Wall Street darling Ryan Cohen.
  • Cohen and two other board members are charged with transforming GameStop into the Amazon of gaming.
  • Their committee is the latest in a series of moves by GameStop’s activist investors.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Ryan Cohen, the Chewy cofounder and former CEO who convinced Wall Street that pets are big business, has a new pet project: a new initiative to transform GameStop, the world’s largest video game retailer, into the Amazon of gaming.

GameStop announced the “Strategic Planning and Capital Allocation Committee” on Monday morning, which is composed of Cohen, former Chewy CMO Alan Attal, and another one of GameStop’s activist investors, Kurt Wolf. The purpose of the committee, GameStop said, is to, “identify initiatives that can further accelerate the company’s transformation.”

That “transformation” has already begun, with the Cohen-led committee already hiring an Amazon vet as the company’s new CTO, and the recent ousting of CFO Jim Bell.

The re-invention of GameStop is the latest project from Cohen and his venture firm, RC Ventures, following the sale of Chewy to PetSmart in 2017 for $US3.35 ($4) billion. Cohen previously bought up a sizable chunk of GameStop shares, accumulating over 12% of the company by December 2020 and sending stock value soaring.

In September 2020, when Cohen initially purchased a significant chunk of the company’s shares, he proposed to the board a plan 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 well-known game trade-in program.

Then, in November 2020, Cohen published an open letter to GameStop shareholders that criticized GameStop’s executive leadership team.

“Through our private conversations, we have explained to Mr. Sherman [CEO] and the Board that GameStop has the ability to pivot toward becoming a technology-driven business that excels in the gaming and digital experience worlds,” Cohen wrote in the letter. “But this pivot requires the type of strategic vision that has not yet taken hold in the c-suite or boardroom.”

Now, Cohen and two liked-minded colleagues on GameStop’s board, are in charge of enabling that “strategic vision” at GameStop that he wrote about late last year.

A representative for Cohen did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

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