ryan cohen is one of the most polarizing investors of millennials. Best known for his record sales of online pet retailer Chewy and his role as Executive Chairman at GameStop EMG. Beside warren buffetCohen’s fortune may be small, but there are similarities between the two that could make Cohen the Buffett of millennials.
Cohen started working at age 13, building websites for family members and local businesses. At age 15, he started a business where he collected fees from various websites through affiliate marketing. With a vision of building an e-commerce business, he and his partner Michael Day created a website for selling jewelry online.
The idea was scrapped a week before its scheduled launch when Cohen was buying his dog from his local pet store, where he had the revelation he was in the wrong industry. The pair pivoted, sold their inventory, created a new pet supplies website and started learning everything they could about the industry.
Within months, the business was launched as MrChewy, which was later named Chewy Inc. CHWY. In 2013, Chewy secured a $15 million investment from Capital Will to grow its business – and in 2014, Chewy opened a 400,000 square foot facility to carry it out in-house.
With the business growing at a rapid pace, Cohen was approached by a competitor PetSmart, who were looking to acquire Chewy. Shortly thereafter, PetSmart acquired Chewy for $3.35 billion in what is known to be the largest e-commerce acquisition in history.
In March 2018, Cohen left the company to pursue personal goals.
Shortly after the sale, Cohen invested in Apple Inc. AAPL this would make him the company’s largest individual shareholder with over 1.5 million shares. In 2020, Cohen’s company, RC Ventures, disclosed a 10% stake in GameStop, which was later increased to 12.9%, making him GameStop’s largest individual shareholder.
According to the SEC filing, RC Ventures has expressed a desire to deliver value to GameStop shareholders and become involved in the company’s operations.
In 2021, GameStop appointed Cohen as a member of the board to lead a company-wide transformation.
In 2022, RC Ventures disclosed that it had a nearly 10% stake in Bed bath and beyond BBBY – and today, in order to avoid a proxy battle, Bed Bath & Beyond has reached a cooperation agreement with Cohen to allow him to add three new members to its board of directors focused on exploring alternatives to unlock greater value from the company’s buybuy BABY banner.
Also Read: Warren Buffett Owns What? 10 Berkshire Acquisitions You May Have Forgotten
Does all of this sound Buffett-esque?
In 1961, Buffett bought 23% of Sanborn Map Company’s shares outstanding as an activist investor, earning him a seat on the company’s board of directors, where he aligned himself with other disgruntled shareholders. Buffett understood that the company’s investment portfolio was worth $65 per share, but the stock was being sold for $45 per share.
With 44% of shares controlled by Buffett and disgruntled shareholders, Sanborn avoided a proxy battle by offering to buy back the shares at fair value. 77% of those shares were redeemed, leaving Buffett with a 50% return.
Like Cohen, Buffett started early in business, spending much of his childhood as an entrepreneur. In high school, Buffett detailed cars, delivered newspapers, and sold stamps and golf balls. He and a friend bought a pinball machine for $25, a few months later owned several machines, and eventually sold the business for $1,200.
With a keen interest in investing and business, Buffett held several positions in the financial industry before taking control of a textile manufacturing company. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A)(NYSE: BRK-B) in 1966.
In 1973, Berkshire began acquiring stock in the Washington Post Company this ultimately led to Buffett serving on the company’s board of directors.
In 1987, Buffett purchased a 12% stake in Salomon Inc, making Buffett the largest shareholder, earning him a seat on the company’s board of directors.
In 1970, Buffett became the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
While Berkshire’s portfolio is exceptionally large, holding 65 companies with more than 260 subsidiaries, and RC Ventures currently only holds two positions, Cohen is 36 and Buffett is 91.
Give it a few decades, and we might end up with another BRK-A.
Photo: Courtesy of Bill Jerome on Flickr