Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Richly Desrved Accolade chief executive/conspiracy theorist/journalist-taunter/short-and-analyst-suer/"miscreant"-blamer Patrick Byrne received a richly deserved "runner-up" for the title of Worst CEO of the Year by's Herb Greenberg.

Aw shucks. Byrne has been desperately grasping for publicity -- even ranting and raving on penny stock websites -- so he no doubt would have preferred the "worst" title. Instead it went to a perfume company exec, Parlux CEO Ilya Lekach.

Herb 's contrasted these two clowns with the quietly competent Apple CEO Steve Jobs:

. . .That's just the opposite of this year's winner and runner-up, Lekach and Byrne, who epitomize some of what I believe make bad CEOs: Arrogance in the face of fumbled financials, and blaming short-sellers for a host of problems.

Unlike Lekach, Byrne has for several consecutive quarters taken full blame for one corporate screw-up after another. Don't get me wrong: Byrne has done an atrocious job, proving himself inept at running a public company. And while his idea for Overstock is intriguing, his execution has been a failure, especially relative to what he led shareholders to expect. Worse, he has spent shareholder time and money using innuendo and lies to create a conspiracy theory that includes journalists (including yours truly), regulators, politicians and others as his company's performance plummeted.

Oh well. Maybe next year. Of course, if Overstock's shares continue to pursue this trend, and if analyst fears concerning its cash flow are borne out, the whole issue may become moot fairly soon.

* * *
My column on Grasso elicited some emails saying that I was defending the man! Read the column, folks. Grasso was obviously overpaid, but I don't believe that using New York State resources to sue him on behalf of NYSE seatholders is the best remedy. If he engaged in wrongdoing as NYSE CEO, as one person suggested, then he should be pursued for that and not for cashing a paycheck.

© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.


Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site.

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