Wall Street success stories come in all kinds of sizes, colors and variations, but Ryan Cohen’s story is definitely one of the more unusual ones. He’s the founder of Chewy, the well-known pet-based e-Commerce company that recently made him a billionaire.
As of 2023, Ryan Cohen has a net worth of $3.6 billion. Cohen’s journey to acquire this wealth wasn’t an easy one, so let’s trace the path of this unique Canadian billionaire.
Ryan Cohen was born into a Jewish family in Montreal in the mid-80s, and his father was an entrepreneur who ran a glassware company.
The 25-year-old dropped out of college in 2011, but the light bulb went on for Cohen when he was standing in front of a pet store scanning products for his poodle. He realized that an online pet food store would be a great idea.
He called the company Mr. Chewy, then subsequently shortened it to Chewy. His biggest initial rival was Pets.com, which raised over $80 million in an IPO, then folded when the tech bubble burst.
Cohen also had to deal with Amazon as a competitor, but he had a specific vision for Chewy that proved highly successful.
He wanted to deliver high-level customer service that went beyond offering products. Chewy went on to gain a reputation as one of the best companies in the business world when it comes to hand-holding customers.
Chewy’s sales numbers kept doubling, going from $205 million in 2014 to $423 million, then $901 million in 2016. That drew a variety of offers from companies looking to buy Chewy, and after saying no to Petco, Cohen accepted an all-cash offer of $3.35 billion from PetSmart.
Chewy’s net worth continues to grow and it’s safe to say that Cohen has few regrets about selling the company.
He’s perfected his business formula of taking failing physical retail businesses, then breathing new life into them. Ryan’s first stop was GameStop, and his goal was to turn the company into the Amazon of the video game world.
He has succeeded in increasing GameStop’s valuation from $76 million to over $7 billion. In December 2020, he disclosed a 12.9% stake in the company, making him the largest individual investor.
By July 2021, Ryan had a gain of $600 million. Since then, the stock is down 50% and as Chairman he is still hoping to turn the business around. Gamestop lost $318 million in 2021, so he has some way to go!
Bed, Bath and Beyond
But Cohen’s path to being a billionaire hasn’t been all sunshine and dollar signs. Last year Cohen was named in a lawsuit related to unusual trading activity on Bed, Bath and Beyond.
He was accused of colluding with the company’s CEO to drive up the stock price, then dump it for a massive profit. Cohen made a cool $68.1 million on the stock, a 56% gain within seven months. Afterward, smaller investors were annoyed as the stock is now down over 90% since its peak.
Like many high-finance types, Ryan Cohen prefers to keep his private life private. He does have a wife and son, but his wife’s identity is a well-kept secret. While there are a few photos of Cohen with his son, his public life revolves largely around his business dealings.