Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Publicity Coup for Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne

Visiting hours at Overstock.com corporate headquarters

I see that some of my friends at CNBC reflected this morning on one of the more embarrassing blatherings of Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne: that there's a "fax machine" at CNBC where reporters take instructions from "hedge funds" (presumably not the hedge fund that his brother operates, or the one through which Byrne owns Overstock shares).

"Did you see that total whack job at Overstock says there's a fax here or something?" asked an amazed Joe Kernan. "We now know he is not above blatant lying."

We now know? Mr. Kernan, with all due respect, where have you been?

Still, I think it's pleasing to see Byrne described accurately for a change, and not with weasel words like "eccentric." The media, I think, has a hard time coming to grips with the possibility that a CEO could be, as one blogger artfully put it the other day, "nucking futs."

True, the "crazy act" could be just that. But I have to admit, it works. Byrne has certainly managed to divert attention from his company's financial woes by behaving like a clown. But is the price that he is paying -- the demolition of his credibility, the damage to his company's reputation, and the humiliation of being an object of fun on national TV -- worth that laudable objective?

© 2008 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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