Patrick Michael Byrne is an American businessman who was born on November 29, 1962. After heading two smaller firms, Byrne founded Overstock.com in 1999. From 1999 until 2019, Byrne served as CEO of Overstock.com for two decades. Byrne took Overstock public in 2002. Early in his presidency, he made headlines for a protracted court struggle against short sellers and “naked short selling.” Following reports that he had been in an intimate connection with Maria Butina, a Russian spy and future politician with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, he eventually resigned as CEO in August 2019.
Patrick M. Byrne then rose to prominence as a proponent of conspiracy theories, especially the “Deep State” hypothesis. He consistently propagated assertions that Donald Trump won the 2020 US presidential election as a result of voting fraud in 2020 and 2021. He’s also given anti-vaccination stump speeches for COVID-19 conspiracy theorists around the United States. He rose to prominence for disseminating and selling false information on a variety of topics via websites, social media, books, and cinema. He’s also known for his stance on public education, which he considers to be conservative.
Career path and time as CEO of Overstock
After heading two smaller firms, the creator of D2-Discounts Direct approached Byrne in 1999 with a need for operational financing. The prior year, the firm made slightly more than $500,000 in income from selling surplus furniture inventory online. In the spring of 1999, Byrne became interested in the concept of online closeouts and invested $7 million for a 60 percent ownership in the firm. In September of that year, he was named CEO, and the firm was rebranded as Overstock.com the following month.
In 2002, Patrick M. Byrne launched Overstock.com’s initial public offering, making it one of the first companies to go public using the “Dutch auction” method, a system pioneered by WR Hambrecht + Co that allows companies to keep more of their capital rather than giving it to investment bank underwriters as in traditional public offerings. Competing banks retaliated, according to Byrne, by publishing unfavorable stories and shorting the company’s shares in an attempt to sabotage the offering’s success. When Google went public in a Dutch auction IPO later that year, Byrne noted that Wall Street companies promoted similar negative tales, but that it did not prevent the company from succeeding.One of Hambrecht’s officials, now-former co-CEO Clay Corbus, was added to Overstock’s board of directors four years after the OpenIPO. Byrne campaigned for the adoption of blockchain technology, including cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, as part of his job.
Employees at Overstock, as well as Byrne’s father, thought that Byrne’s long-running fight against short sellers, which began in 2005, had diverted his attention away from the company’s primary business. In some years, the firm lost money, while in others, it made a little profit. During Byrne’s term, several initiatives were launched with zeal, only to be abandoned or fail miserably. Overstock invested several million dollars in 2004 to launch an online auction platform to compete with eBay, however, the venture failed and was shut down in 2011.
Byrne began investing in bitcoin and blockchain in 2013, and Overstock was the first big shop to accept Bitcoin as payment. Tzero, a new digital stock exchange market as a “blockchain version of Nasdaq,” was generally unsuccessful in its initial coin offering in 2018. Byrne relocated some of Overstock’s financial sheets to back Tzero, a new digital stock exchange billed as a “blockchain version of Nasdaq.” In 2017 and 2018, as Bryne’s focus on technology grew, Overstock suffered enormous losses—$316 million in two years, more than double the earnings the business had ever achieved.