By CCN.com: In one of the most bizarre CEO departures from a public company ever from a public company CEO whose erratic behavior can only be compared to that of Elon Musk, Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne has resigned from the company.
A Soap Opera at Overstock, Starring The CEO
The reasons for Patrick Byrne’s departure read like an episode of some kind of HBO soap opera.
Apparently, Patrick Byrne was dating a woman named Maria Butina, a Russian woman who was thrown in jail for 18 months for failing to register as a foreign lobbying agent.
Her alleged reason for being in the United States was to advocate for gun rights. One wonders why exactly a Russian citizen would be in the United States as a pro-gun activist, considering that our country is already overflowing with them.
Be that as it may, Patrick Byrne apparently told the FBI that he had met her, because he has a form of low – level security clearance, and failing to have reported it might jeopardize that clearance.
Now It Gets Weird
The weirdest element of the story is that he was given permission by the FBI to date her, or so he claims, and the relationship lasted for about a year. However, after he broke up with her, he claims the FBI asked him to try to rekindle the romance in order to get intelligence from her. The FBI denies this.
As news of this has leaked out into the media, Patrick Byrne decided that he had become too much of a distraction to continue running Overstock.
If only Elon Musk would follow his example.
Should This Matter to Overstock Shareholders?
If anything, I think Overstock shareholders should see this as a net positive.
Overstock was one of the earlier online retailers, and it had a nifty idea of selling surplus retail items from various brands at a discount.
Yet that model faded away over a few years, and Overstock just became another unremarkable retailer.
Then Patrick Byrne pushed into blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. He has proclaimed many times that this is the direction that Overstock would be taking in the future, although some of those plans felt vague and unfocused.
Overstock’s stock had soared on recent M&A rumors, and talks of its crypto strategy, but then crashed 30 percent when this strange FBI story broke.
Patrick Byrne had always been a bit of an oddball. There had that he had been posting on online stock forms under a fake identity in the early days of the company. He is been an advocate against naked short selling. His communications and letters to shareholders are often laced with hyperbole and colorful language.
Given that Overstock stock has risen about 9 percent since announcing his departure, shareholders should probably be pleased.