Monday, June 18, 2007

Does Overstock.com Have a Board of Directors?

Warning: This item is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, children under 18, persons with high blood pressure or heart disease, or anyone with a weak stomach:

Reading the latest atrocity by the nauseating (and I do mean nauseating) Judd Bagley, Overstock.com's Director of Communications, official spokesman and resident stalker, has gotten me wondering: does Overstock.com have a board of directors?

Not "does it have a competent board of directors?" or "does it have independent board members who care about their jobs?" -- the answer to those two questions obviously being no -- but whether there is such a thing as "corporate governance" at this chamber pot of a company.

What got me wondering about this was an act of blackmail, signed proudly by Bagley, directed at the proprietor of the O-Smear website, which has exposed this SEC-investigated company's unethical conduct.

You can read about the blackmail here, but I think the letter is worth replicating below:


From: Judd Bagley
To: scipioafricanus_iv@yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 11:51:26 PM
Subject: just thought I'd ask...

I thought I should tell you that I've have known your real identity for a while now.

Up until last week, it appeared that you'd grown tired of o-smear and all the games (which would make "outting" you unnecessary) but lately it appears that's not the case.

I don't want to cause anybody unnecessary harm, but I'm beyond tired of the lies.

If you choose to continue as you have been, I will write about you on AntiSocialMedia.net. In doing so, my goal is not to intimidate, but to let you own your words; under those circumstances, I think the lies will take care of themselves.

Having said that, I'm also very much aware of the impact this could have on your reputation, especially where you live, and I feel obligated to offer you a way out. So, if you're ready to set things right, I'll keep your name to myself and figure we'll both be karmically better off for it.

I look forward to your response (and will be PMing this to your IV account, as well).

--
Judd Bagley
Note the dictionary definition of blackmail: "to force or coerce into a particular action, statement, etc."

This may go down in history as the first blackmail letter written in smug corporate P.R. doublespeak. ("I'm beyond tired of the lies"="I'm beyond tired of the truth." "My goal is not to intimidate"= "My goal is to intimidate you and every other critic of Overstock.com") I say that because Bagley was, of course, aware that his letter would be made public. He's proud of it, you see.

Note the similarity in wording to the threat that he made against a Wikipedia administrator in late August, shortly after going on the Overstock.com payroll in his initial title of "director of social media."

No other company in the U.S. would sanction such disgusting, unethical, and legally questionable conduct by a corporate official, made doubly odious by the fact that Bagley was hired to do the bidding of CEO Byrne, and his actions have a long history of being supported and promoted by Byrne.

Any other corporate board would discharge both Byrne and Bagley -- something obviously inconceivable for the laughingstock, lapdog, functionally nonexistent Overstock.com board.

Reading this email from a corporate thug to a private citizen also makes me wonder: Is there is such a concept as "SEC enforcement" when it comes to the misdeeds of Overstock and its CEO Patrick Byrne? Or has Byrne's ancestral wealth and political influence makes that concept moot as well?

This latest episode in the Bagley-Byrne saga is a test of Overstock.com's board of directors as well as the Enforcement Division of the SEC.

The board's independent members, I understand, have been advised of Bagley's latest actions. Ditto for the SEC.


If they do nothing in a reasonably brief period of time, then the answer to the question that I posed above will be answered. It will mean that Overstock.com, for all intents and purposes, does not have a board of directors.

As for SEC enforcement -- well, just read my book and you can understand why nothing has been done. If anything is done, I would surmise, it would only happen long after Ovestock is a wretched memory.

Also today, Sam Antar has a revealing, detailed post on how Bagley and Byrne have used anti-Semitism as a tool of corporate intimidation. It makes for fascinating reading.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: O-Smear did not respond and Bagley carried out his threat on Overstock's antisocialmedia.net corporate smear site. By so doing, Bagley showed that he is as much a schmuck as he is a blackmailer.

Bagley's "revelation" is that O-Smear is run not by the Sith Lord but by some guy in Indiana -- a private citizen who is disgusted with corporate creeps like Judd Bagley.

To make the slimy picture complete, and thumb his nose at Joseph J. Tabacco Jr. and other independent directors, Bagley put a spyware bug in his ASM post, so as to track people distributing the item via email.

The onus is now on Tabacco and the other independent board members. By serving on the board of this company, they have a moral and, I suspect, legal obligation to register strong and public disapproval of the activities of Bagley and Byrne. If they don't, their silence would be tacit approval of Bagley's and Byrne's disgraceful behavior, and they will bear full responsibility for their neglect of duty.

Quite frankly, I wonder how reputable people like Tabacco could allow their reputations to be sullied by associating with a company such as Overstock.com.

Some reaction:

The Motley Fool's Daniel Rubin calls Bagley's blackmail adventures "the most incredible thing I've seen in my seven years of following the market. "

Says Rubin:
Is there ANY oversight of all this filth? Any at all? To see this mockery go on right out in the open, and involving an American public company is starting to genuinely challenge my faith in the integrity of the system. As I've said, this is the cruelest irony of this debacle. This pitiful, puke-inducing chapter of American business never ceases to turn the stomach - cyberstalking, anti-Semitism, Sith Lords, international mobsters, conspiracies, and enough message board animosity to fuel a space shuttle.
Rubin added in another Motley Fool post: "The question is when will all [Byrne's] railing and false accusations and seemingly blatant illegal activity result in his removal and legal action? This man has left a trail of animosity and denigration of the human spirit that is awe inspiring in it's scope."

That's the question. The answer is with Joe Tabacco and his colleagues.

More reaction:

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© 2007 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, gary-weiss.com.

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