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It looks like GameStop's new chief executive officer, Michael Mauler, has decided to step down from his post. What makes this such a surprise is the fact that the company has been doing well lately, as well as the fact Mauler has only been in the role for a few months.
This news comes to us from The Wall Street Journal, which recently had a chat with industry analyst Michael Pachter. Pachter didn't beat around the bush with his assessment of the departure, saying that Mauler leaving was "a shocker and disruptive," and that it will likely cause concern among GameStop investors.
No reason has been offered by Mauler at this point and the only cause GameStop is offering is that the departure was due to "personal reasons." Again, while a CEO leaving a company is typically worth a story, what makes this instance stand out is the background. Mauler had been with the company for 16 years and only took over as CEO this past February. Serving in that capacity for just three months, Mauler's departure has rightfully raised a few eyebrows.
In the initial report, Pachter points out that stability and continuity are two things that investors like to see, neither of which have been strong suits for GameStop. This goes double, now that a company head has vacated his position so quickly and unexpectedly. In other words, Pachter predicts this will likely hit GameSpot in the ole pocketbook, potentially undoing all of last year's success.
That's the other part of this news that's so surprising. Mauler is stepping away despite the fact that GameStop has been doing pretty well lately. They've dipped their toe into more mobile and service markets recently, but the runaway success of the Switch last year also helped create a nice boost for the games retailer. But, as that particular market looks to level out soon, GameStop may have been struggling to find a direction without a console mega-hit to drive business. New hardware from Sony and Microsoft is also likely years off at this point, which certainly doesn't paint a rosier picture for GameStop's future.
Perhaps, and this is just speculation, Mauler did not feel he was the right guy to come up with the big ideas to keep GameStop moving in a positive direction. Digital game sales are clearly hitting the brick and mortar store hard, and we doubt their shift to offering more geeky collectibles has filled the gap.
We'll be interested to learn more about Mauler's departure if and when he or the company decide to share additional details. Until then, it's certainly a surprising turn and one that, according to Pachter, will likely affect the company's bottom line. Here's hoping big releases like Red Dead Redemption 2, Black Ops IIII, Battlefield V, Spider-Man and that potentially leaked roster of E3 announcements help make up the difference.