2021-02-23 by W.M.
GameStop CFO resigns a month after the Reddit trading frenzy
The company announced Tuesday that Jim Bell, its executive vice president and CFO, will resign from his roles on March 26. GameStop (GME) has started searching for a new CFO “with the capabilities and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop’s transformation,” it said, hinting at the company’s efforts to shift its focus from physical to online retail.
The announcement comes about a month after a trading frenzy fueled by the Reddit page WallStreetBets caused a massive spike — and, later, drop — in GameStop’s stock. From the start of the year to January 27, when the stock closed at $347.51, shares gained nearly 1,915%. GameStop stock is now trading around $45, a big dip but still above where it started the year.
The event provided massive publicity for GameStop, garnering the attention of everyone from the White House and Janet Yellen to billionaires like Mark Cuban and Elon Musk, not to mention the entire internet. It also raised questions about GameStop’s future, as short sellers who believed the struggling retailer’s fortunes would fall farther were pitted against retailer traders who believed the company was being undervalued.
When asked by CNN Business about the reason for Bell’s departure, a GameStop spokesperson said the company is “not providing any further comments at this time concerning the announcement.”
In a press release, GameStop said it “thanks Mr. Bell for his significant contributions and leadership, including his efforts over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Bell became GameStop’s CFO in June 2019. That year, the company’s chief executive admitted GamesStop was in a “tough place” — it was suffering from falling sales and had plans to close around 200 stores. While the larger video gaming industry has been growing, physical games, one of GameStop’s mainstays, have become less popular.
Then the pandemic hit and things got a whole lot worse. In September, the company announced it planned to close between 400 and 450 stores globally by the end of the year, around 100 more than it had initially projected last March. And in the three months that ended October 31, the company’s most recent reported quarter, it posted a net loss of $18.8 million.
Still, some investors remain hopeful about the company’s ability to reduce its reliance on sales in physical stores and transition to e-commerce. The founder of online pet store Chewy.com, Ryan Cohen, made a large investment in GameStop last year and now sits on its board, along with two former Chewy colleagues, and could help push the retailer into the digital age.
If no permanent CFO replacement is found prior to Bell’s exit, the company plans to appoint Chief Accounting Officer Diana Jajeh as interim CFO.