Former Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime Reveals Why He Left GameStop
The retailer's executive team "rebuffed" his request to join the strategy planning team, so he bid GameStop adieu.
Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has shared new light on his surprise exit from the GameStop board of directors, saying in an interview at SXSW (via Bloomberg) that it came down to being locked out of conversations about how to turn the ship around.
Before explaining why he left, Fils-Aime discussed why he joined in the first place. After leaving Nintendo, Fils-Aime joined GameStop's board of directors in April 2020, at the onset of the pandemic and with some thinking GameStop would go bankrupt before the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. So why would Fils-Aime join a company with a less-than-rosy outlook for the future?
He explained that, at the time, he believed GameStop had the potential to be successful if its management took the right steps and had an action plan.
"I believed that the company could be successful. I believed that with taking the right action that certainly the company would exist in time for the launch of the new systems. And a company that services the core gaming audience the way they do would be able to have a successful future," he said.
Fils-Aime said GameStop needed to pivot in a number of ways, including ramping up its ecommerce portfolio and services and generally finding ways to better satisfy its customer base. The PS5 and Series X|S released in November 2020 and GameStop remained solvent as Fils-Aime said the retailer was able to maximize its riches from those systems and the more profit-driving games sold for them.
At this time, billionaire business entrepreneur Ryan Cohen, the founder of online pet food company Chewy, had assumed control of GameStop. Fils-Aime said Cohen pushed for "more aggressive change" at GameStop. What's more, Fils-Aime said GameStop's board of directors had already gone through a number "bruising" fights with shareholders, and management didn't want to go through that again.
As for why Fils-Aime eventually left GameStop's board of directors, he said it came down to Cohen and other management not wanting to listen to his advice, despite Fils-Aime being being an industry veteran and one of the most experienced business executives in gaming on the planet.
"The issue was that as the strategy was beginning to be developed, I asked to be part of the team to develop the strategy. I knew the business. I knew it as a consumer, I knew it as a vendor; I had pretty strong opinions on how the business needed to be pivoted. But I was rebuffed," Fils-Aime said. "The perspective was, 'Reggie, we want to keep the team small... so it's going to be myself [Cohen] and a few of the people I brought on board.'"
Fils-Aime flat-out said Cohen and the team around him "don't know this business; don't understand the players."
When Fils-Aime was denied a spot on the strategy team for GameStop's path forward, he took this as a sign that it was time to go.
"I took that as code for, 'Thank you, but we really don't want any other ideas.' For me, that was not acceptable," he said.
To this day, the current GameStop management has not articulated its strategy for success in the future, and Fils-Aime didn't want to stick around to see how it all played out.
"There has not been an articulated strategy. Leadership says, 'Well, we don't want to articulate our strategy because we don't want anyone to steal our strategy,'" Fils-Aime said.
Articulating a business strategy is critical, Fils-Aime said, saying management needed to have briefed its business partners, vendors, employees, and shareholders, but it never did and apparently still hasn't.
Fils-Aimed ended his comments by saying this is a marked change from the other boards he sits on, including Brunswick Corp. (which makes very fancy boats) and the toy company Spin Master.
GameSpot has followed up with GameStop in an attempt to get more details on Fils-Aime's exit from the board of directors.
Additionally, Fils-Aime used his speech to criticize Facebook's plans for the metaverse. The Regginator has also added author to this resume, as his new book that charts his rise from the Bronx to the top of Nintendo, Disrupting the Game, will be out in May.
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