Friday, July 11, 2008

Overstock.com's July Festival of Misleading Press Releases.


It's hard to ignore my favorite corporate sleazebucket, Overstock.com, no matter how restful it may be to do so. In recent days, this third-rate Internet retailer and its looney-tunes CEO Patrick Byrne have treated us to the latest examples of their favorite product: false and misleading press releases.

The latest is a press release yesterday that, as swallowed whole by some in the media, indicates that Byrne is engaged in a humanitarian quest: he has stopped selling fur products. Isn't the man an absolute doll? However, as pointed out by a Baltimore Sun blog, it's quite obvious that Byrne has taken this action because of a belated discovery that he had been selling dog fur.

Puts a different spin on it, don't you think? Evidently Overstock's ace buyers were showing their usual competence. Overstock is foregoing $5 million in annual sales by this move, but "what’s another $5 million for a company that’s been bleeding red ink since it went public? ," asks Tracy Coenen. (Mind you, that is $5 million in "Patrick Byrne dollars," which is hazardous to translate into actual revenues.)

Next we go from hokum to outright lying: a press release the other day indicating that Overstock had a "favorable court ruling" in its ongoing junk lawsuit against Gradient Analytics. However, as Gradient pointed out in a counter-press release, this was actually a big fat defeat.

All in a day's work for Patrick Byrne, I guess. Hey, he's not a perennial on "worst CEO in America" lists for nothing

© 2008 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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