Sunday, July 15, 2007

Today's Patrick Byrne Lie Du Jour

From a New York Times article in tomorrow's newspaper on the John Mackey message board postings, online tonight:

Patrick M. Byrne, founder and chief executive of the beleaguered online retailer, has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics. In an interview, Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, “Hannibal” (the Carthaginian conqueror, not the celluloid serial killer). [emphasis added]

Oh really? Here's Byrne's most recent post on the Investor Village message board for discussion of (not naked short selling or Sith Lords or bodies in trunks):

Hmmm...... seems that he forgot to sign it. Oh my.

That is not the exception, that is the rule.

Here are the name-signing stats for Byrne's "Hannibal" posts on the Investor Village message board, toted up by Internet sleuth "Scipio Africanus":

  • 1 signed as "Patrick Byrne, CEO"
  • 3 signed as "Patrick Byrne"
  • 57 signed as "Patrick"
  • 34 unsigned - including one "Kreskin", one "PB" and one ";-)"
And I would add:
  • 0 that disclose that he is the largest shareholder of
Here's a link to all the Byrne posts on IV. A strong stomach is not required but recommended.

His profile is, needless to say, "private."

His previous postings on the subscription Motley Fool board followed a similar pattern, and also was hidden behind a profile not containing his real name.

Before that, he posted anonymously on the "" message board, although those posts have been mysteriously deleted.

One oddity about the article: I'm not sure where the Times picked up about Byrne being accused of sockpuppeting. I haven't read that anywhere. The issue is much more serious, as I have discussed in several recent posts, most recently this one.

I'm more than a little surprised that the Times didn't talk about his "I'm a journalist" cock-and-bull story. Makes me wonder: is the media intimidated by Patrick Byrne's well-documented record of "going after" critics?

Anyway, don't feel too harsh about Byrne Lie No. 2343100. The Mob is out to get the poor dear.

UPDATE: Fraud-fighter Sam Antar recounts in his blog the consequences of asking Byrne to do what he said he did in the Times:

On January 29, 2007, in a post (message number 4166), on InvestorVillage, I asked Patrick Byrne to clear up the confusion:


Can you please sign your post with your full name so there is no misunderstanding as to who is replying?

Patrick Byrne (CEO of uses the handle Hannibal. Let's clear up any misunderstanding as to who is responding. [emphasis added]


Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO & convicted felon)"

Patrick Byrne chose not to reply to the above question. Later, he complained (message number 4463) that I was acting as a “Junior Prosecutor" and asked other message board readers to ignore me:

"Is there anyone here who suspects that Sam is just trying to clog, or waste my time, or misdirect this discussion board? If you agree, please recommend this post. If we get over 20, I say that is proof that it is time we all agree to ignore Sam forever." [emphasis added]

The management of Investor Village obediently banned Sam from the Overstock message board.

Forensic accountant Tracy Coenen observes:

It’s bad enough that Byrne is not clearly and publicly disclosing his identity when writing messages about, but it’s even worse that he lies about it and makes it seem like he does always disclose it.

Byrne hides behind the First Amendment and free speech. Well…. he may have the right to say what he wishes about Overstock, but Regulation FD dictates how he must do that when his free speech relates to Overstock, the public company which he runs.

Byrne later tried to reconcile his lies in a rambling, psycho rant.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
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