Meme fav GameStop eyes digital shift and stock flies again

GameStop is taking significant step toward a more digital future, naming an activist investor to lead company efforts to push more of its business online

NEW YORK — GameStop took a step toward a more digital future Monday, naming an activist investor to lead company efforts to push more of its business online.

The stock, which has become the focus of federal regulators after online traders challenged more institutional investors and sent shares gyrating wildly, jumped almost 50% in midday trading.

Ryan Cohen, the co-founder of the online pet supply company Chewy, will chair the company’s new Strategic Planning and Capital Allocation Committee.

Cohen took a huge stake in GameStop before the online frenzy over company shares began in January. He has been seen as an agent of change and someone who knows how to make a traditional business more nimble through technology.

Cohen won a seat on GameStop’s board early this year about a month after the company revealed plummeting sales in its third quarter. He has since lobbied to move GameStop’s focus away from store locations, and toward a more online existence.

Cohen’s arrival helped to spark a stock buying frenzy in which smaller, online investors challenged massive GameStop short positions held by hedge funds that believed the company was overvalued and in for a rough ride.

A share of GameStop that could be had for less that $20 at the start of the year, rocketed north of $480 by the end of January. Trading for more than $200 on Monday, shares are still up 970% this year.

GameStop, based in Grapevine, Texas, also said Monday that it has appointed a chief technology officer, hired executives to lead its customer care and e-commerce functions, and begun the search for a new chief financial officer with experience in tech or e-commerce.

Joining the strategic committee with Cohen are Alan Attal and Kurt Wolf, the company said Monday.