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Why the CEOs of GameStop, BlackBerry have gone MIA amid trading frenzy

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The CEOs of GameStop, BlackBerry, Koss Corporation, AMC Entertainment and others who have seen their fundamentally beleaguered companies swept up into the recent trading madness of the past few weeks appear to be missing in action. Yahoo Finance's Brian Sozzi weighs in.

Video Transcript

MYLES UPLAND: All right. Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live on this Monday morning. Let's take a look at shares of GameStop here. They're up about 3 and 1/2% in the early going. Stock still trading in the mid 60s, which for a name that was in the mid single digits about seven months ago obviously still a huge run.

But as this story starts to level off, some of the craziness we saw and the meme names gets toned down just a bit. Brian Sozzi, you are wondering-- as we have discussed a couple of times but it now becomes more pointed the more time that goes by-- where are the executives of these companies. Why have we not heard from management teams about what just is going on with the stock price of these companies?

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah, it's been surprising not to at least hear something from folks that get paid a lot of money to be the public faces of their company during this extreme bout of volatility. But, you know, talking to a lot of former CEOs and experts on this, they point to a couple of things on why you have not heard from them. I have the-- the larger piece on this now on the Yahoo Finance website.

Number one, they don't want to be seen as manipulating the stock price. So if they come out today and move the stock, that certainly is not good. And that type of commentary may come back to bite them in the rear moving forward.

Some suggest that these executives might just be flat out frozen or stunned by what has happened. Let's keep in mind, in late January, GameStop CEO George Sherman, who joined in 2019, on paper his holdings-- his stock-- stock holdings-- in the company were worth $1.1 billion. Now he's only getting paid-- only-- $1.1 million annually. So to suddenly be worth $1.1 billion on paper, I'm sure it does stun you. And then last but not least, a lot of these experts that I talked to, they say that the executives don't necessarily want to come out and feed into this mania and drive it even forward and just cause more speculation in the market.

But it is interesting, Myles and Julie, to not hear a peep from any of them. We had GameStop CEO-- we haven't heard from him since a January 11th release where they detailed their holiday sales. He did comment on the January 28th release, detailing progress GameStop has made on human rights but definitely did not even mention any of this. BlackBerry CEO John Chen, haven't heard a-- a lick from him at all. Now BlackBerry did come out with a statement on January 25th, noting the market volatility, saying nothing has changed fundamentally in the business.

Perhaps the most vocal one here is Michael Koss. He is part of nine insiders at Koss that have sold $40 million of stock. That was last week, according to SEC documents.

It's worth noting here, Michael Koss did not get back to me via an email for comment. BlackBerry CEO declined to make John Chen available. And GameStop CEO, he was not made available to Yahoo Finance for this story.

JULIE HYMAN: Well, and-- and, Sozzi, then you have-- maybe when actions speak louder than words-- in the instance of AMC, which has filed to sell shares even if they didn't-- haven't-- management hasn't come out and talked necessarily but they're taking advantage of the moment to raise money. I mean, the question I would ask when you're looking at the lack of commentary on the part of these executives is what's the upside, right? What-- what would you have to gain possibly by coming out and commenting on everything that's going on?

BRIAN SOZZI: Well, it just, you know-- I-- I think it would calm some nerves at least to get some form of comment out there publicly, just to show that you are paying attention-- you are paying attention to what's happening. You know, I talked to one-- one former CEO, though just because they're not commenting publicly doesn't mean they're not discussing this internally, of course. You know, they're probably talking to their PR teams about what approach to be taking in the coming weeks, probably talking to their lawyers to understand what's happening in the market for their stock, and they're also likely talking to employees to suggest and just really tell them, don't go talking about this on social media.

MYLES UPLAND: And I-- I thought it was interesting that GameStop came out last week and made a couple of key hires. Now I understand that there's a turnaround story, a fundamental story, that needs to continue. But one of those is a sea level position. Presumably, all three of these folks are going to be getting some kind of stock-based comp.

And I don't know how you structure that when the last 30 days-- I mean, you can-- you can do it a number of different ways. But no matter how you cut it for GameStop, the strike at which you issue that is going to be either basically a record high or you're going to have to backdate it to some date, which creates all kinds of weirdness, so really challenging position for all of these companies. And I think why we've reiterated on this show, no one wants a stock price to go up 1,000% in two weeks.

It's not good. It doesn't help anything. It makes life significantly more complicated. All right.