Moves: GameStop COO Out After 7 Months On The Job

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GameStop (NYSE: GME), the electronics retail company that’s hysteric in retail-trading circles, has a major leadership change. Its Chief Operating Officer (COO) has departed after less than a year on the job for unclear reasons.

  • GameStop’s COO, Jenna Owens, has departed the company after just seven months on the job, according to a recent SEC filing. Such abrupt departure is unusual for a high-level position like hers.
  • Owens was hired seven months ago to help spearhead GameStop’s vision of transforming from a brick-and-mortar retailer into an e-commerce powerhouse. She was recruited from e-commerce giant Amazon where she was an executive, by Ryan Cohen, an e-commerce veteran and GameStop investor who’s the architect of the company’s e-commerce push. Cohen became GameStop’s Chairman this June. 
  • In its SEC filing, GameStop said Owens’s duty has been absorbed by other members of its management team. She’s entitled to six months of base pay and the remaining portion of her signing bonus as severance. 
Such a short-lived tenure for a COO isn’t normal, especially for one who was hired to initiate a major strategic change. In its filing, GameStop said it reached a “separation agreement” with Owens, a type of agreement usually negotiated when companies and their executives are in conflict.

Notably, GameStop also used separation agreements when it parted ways with its former chief financial officer Jim Bell and CEO George Sherman this year. They left the company as part of its strategic shift led by Cohen, the CEO with a $179mn severance package
  • All in, it seems Owens wasn’t on board with GameStop’s recent initiatives and left peacefully. Her departure doesn’t seem like a cause for alarm.
GameStop became famous in trading circles this year as a “meme stock”, referring to a stock that gains popularity and skyrockets in price due to a sudden surge in online interest or on social media, without regard for underlying fundamentals. 

This year, GameStop’s stock is up nearly 1,000% and even surged as high as 2,700% in January before cooling down to its current level. It has a current market cap of $14bn, compared to $1.5bn at this year’s beginning. 

                                             

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