Wilke will start at GameStop on April 5 and be responsible for customer loyalty programs and expanding the use of consumer insights and metrics. The company also appointed two former executives from online pet store Chewy as vice presidents of brand development and merchandising.
The hires appear to be part of an aggressive move by Cohen to overhaul GameStop’s existing leadership team as he seeks to turn its fortunes around, said Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities. Cohen’s venture capital firm RC Ventures is among GameStop’s largest shareholders following a major investment last year.
“It appears to me that Ryan Cohen is running the company,” Pachter said, though George Sherman is technically still GameStop’s chief executive.
GameStop investors responded positively to the news. The company’s shares jumped 11% soon after market open on Tuesday, and were trading around 5% higher midday.
But Sherman did not take analyst questions during the earnings call, an unusual move that left some wondering about the specifics of Cohen’s strategy for the company.
“[Cohen] apparently has a strategy because he’s said so a bunch of times,” Patcher said. “He’s not willing to tell us what it is. He built a $32 billion company in Chewy, so I think Wall Street is giving him credit that he can turn GameStop into something worth a lot … But I’m still somewhat baffled that shareholders are giving him credit for executing a strategy that he’s not willing to share with us.”
“I would say today’s moves tell you that George is on his way out,” Patcher said.
Here are the new GameStop hires from the past two months:
- Elliott Wilke, Chief Growth Officer. Formerly Director of Amazon Fresh. He will “oversee growth strategies and marketing, with a focus on increasing customer loyalty,” GameStop said. Hire announced March 30.
- Andrea Wolfe, Vice President of Brand Development. Formerly Chewy Vice President of Marketing. She will “help drive branding, content, social media strategy,” GameStop said. Hire announced March 30.
- Tom Petersen, Vice President of Merchandising. Formerly Chewy Vice President of Merchandising. He will “help drive vendor relations, product management and related merchandising initiatives.” Hire announced March 30.
- Jenna Owens, Chief Operating Officer. Formerly director and general manager for distribution and multi-channel fulfillment at Amazon, and held roles at Google and Honeywell. Hire announced March 23.
- Neda Pacifico, Senior Vice President of E-Commerce. Formerly Chewy vice president of e-commerce. Hire announced March 23.
- Ken Suzuki, Vice President of Supply Chain Systems. Formerly vice president of supply chain technology at online consumer goods retailer Zulily. Hire announced March 23.
- Matt Francis, Chief Technology Officer. Formerly engineering leader at Amazon Web Services. Hire announced February 3.
- Kelli Durkin, Senior Vice President of Customer Care. Formerly Chewy vice president of customer service. Hire announced February 3.
- Josh Krueger, Vice President of Fulfillment. Formerly held senior fulfillment roles at Amazon, Zulily, Walmart and QVC.