Driven by a huge short-hack pinning Reddit traders against a storied Wall Street short-seller, the mind-blowing GameStop share rally haunted a new billionaire in Ryan Cohen, an activist investor willing to forge a turnaround for the brick-and-mortar gameseller.
According to annual reports, Cohen – the founder and former CEO of Chewy, a growing e-commerce business focusing on pet supplies – invested around $76 million purchasing more than 9 million of GameStop’s stock at the end of last year as an attempt was made to restructure Grapevine, Texas-based company.
Cohen said, in a public letter to GameStop’s Board of Directors in November, that the stock’s bad performance at that time was down 85% over the previous five years. He said, “GameStop needs to be reformed into a technology company that delights players and delivers exceptional digital experiences–not remain a video game distributor that overprioritizes its brick-and-mortar footprint and stumbles around the online ecosystem.”
It’s doubtful that Cohen, or anyone else, could have known what’s going to happen in the next few months. GameStop shares have risen more than 800% since its announcement, and the value of Cohen’s share has risen to around $825 million. Tack that on sales Cohen earned from PetSmart’s $3.4 billion purchase of Chewy in 2017, and Forbes reports that the 35-year-old is worth around $1 billion. A Cohen representative said he was not available for a press interview.
Given how volatile GameStop’s stock has been, it’s not clear how long Cohen will hang on to its billionaire status. But, for now, GameStop is still climbing. Shares are astounding 25% at 12 p.m. Tuesday, after a 20% climb on Monday. Analysts are paving the way for an increase of interest on the part of institutional investors, which has, in turn, fueled a short-term squeeze. In other words, retail traders who were betting on the stock are now purchasing borrowed shares in order to minimize their losses or secure profits on the chance that the company may actually be in a position to turnaround.
Retail traders have meanwhile praised the participation of Cohen, where Reddit discussion boards such as WallStreetBets show a slew of bullish in-home traders that push the stock price up amid widespread belligerence by institutional investors. The momentum has come to a head in recent days, after the Wall Street store Citron Research went public with a $20 short GameStop share – around one-fifth of the current prices. The step caused so much online backlash that the shop’s founder said he turned the “an angry mob” of shareholders to the authorities in threatening comments.
Cohen is just continuing with GameStop in the meantime. He had three seats on GameStop’s board earlier this month with increasing investment—one for himself and two for some of his former Chewy employees.
Reddit traders tend to be sure that GameStop will have the same rise, but Wall Street experts are far more skeptical. The average price target for the GameStop system is around 80% below current price levels from eight analysts offering such guidance.
However, the frenzy for the new billionaire Cohen, though at the joy of a crazy social media war, has proven to be fruitful. And although the result remains unknown.