Sunday, October 29, 2006

Patrick Byrne's Latest Passion

Overstock.com chief executive/conspiracy theorist/journalist-taunter/short-and-analyst-suer/"miscreant"-blamer Patrick Byrne has a new passion! See if you can guess what it is. Here are your choices:

1. Overstock.com
2. World hunger
3. Wikipedia

"Overstock.com" is what they call in testing the "distractor" -- the obviously wrong answer to snare the unwary. No, Byrne's latest passion, while his money-losing company sinks deeper in the red and its stock tanks, is Wikipedia!

A loyal reader brings to my attention that that Bryne has begun devoting his obviously ample spare time to a website called Wikipedia Review, which takes potshots at the online encyclopedia.

Byrne's contributions to that worthy endeavor can be found here. Note the first post, with its lengthy rumination on Michael Steinhardt. A possible candidate for the long-missing Sith Lord, perhaps?

The last post was Oct. 4. He could have been doing a lot of things since then. The Internet is a big place, after all.

What we do know is that running Overstock is clearly too boring for a man of his wide-ranging interests. My theory is that he simply can't figure out a way to turn the company around, and has given up.

Hey, he's not in the running for Worst CEO of the Year for nothing!

UPDATE: For more on the Baloney Brigade's assault on Wikipedia, led by our favorite CEO-demagogue, click here.

© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Mark Cuban's Unfinished Business

When Mark Cuban's Sharesleuth insider-trading vehicle performed a hatchet job on a little company called Xethanol in early August, Cuban disclosed some unfinished business: he had taken a short position in not just Xethanol, but also a company called UTEK, a Xethanol shareholder.

The UTEK short position was "underwater," Cuban disclosed at the time.

Well, Sharesleuth's second article has come out, and it is about a company called (surprise surprise) UTEK!

Cuban has come out from under water. His short position, initially 25,000 shares, has swelled to 75,000 at an average price of $20. The shares are now trading at about $12, thanks to Sharesleuth.

Cuban's new "business model" sure is working! All you have to do is to hire a journalist to write market sensitive articles, and trade in advance of each story's appearance. Disclose your trading position and it's all legal.

Unethical as "journalism" and slimy as all hell, but legal.

Gee, I wonder what Sharesleuth's next target might be? I guess only Sharesleuth, Mark Cuban -- and his stockbroker -- know the answer to that.

© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Some Thoughts on India

I've been in India for the past few weeks, hence my absence from this blog. However, while there I wrote a column for Forbes.com on the India-U.S. nuclear deal. This is the beginning of what I expect will be a fruitful relationship with Forbes.com, which regularly kicks butt on all manner of subjects.

* * *

A friend sent me this excellent article by John Judis on my alma mater Business Week. which appeared in the New Republic's website. Judis describes how BW recently laid off its excellent labor reporter, Aaron Bernstein. Aaron was let go in the second full-scale layoff to hit the magazine since its new editor, Steve Adler, took charge in mid-2005. While shedding staff, Adler has added columns and generally, in my view, fluffed up the magazine.

I don't agree with all of Judis's conclusions, but I do think that his general assessment of the magazine is correct. BW may not aspire to be the "People of the business world," as Judis suggests, but it certainly seems to be moving in that direction.

I think Judis's conclusion is right on the mark:

Perhaps this new BusinessWeek will make more money than the old. Then [BW editor Steve] Adler will be vindicated in the new cutthroat world of magazine publishing, which sees magazines as simply another commodity to sell. But I somehow doubt that a magazine named BusinessWeek can attract the narcissistic readers that advertisers love. My guess is that, under Adler, BusinessWeek will become a magazine that is neither particularly profitable nor socially useful. In any case, it has already lost at least one reader.


UPDATE: I later learned that this post was linked from a cyberstalking website "antisocialmedia.net," which has been identified by the New York Post as a dirty tricks operation by Judd Bagley, director of social media for a company called Overstock.com. (Its CEO Patrick Byrne is famous for blaming his company's woes on a "Sith Lord.") Here's a later post on the stalker site's malicious lies. More posts on Bagley's paranoid dirty tricks campaign, which includes extortionate threats and stalking of other critics of Byrne, can be found by reading posts tagged "cyberstalking."

© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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

Labels:

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