Saturday, October 31, 2009

Patrick Byrne, in Early-Morning Rampage, Makes Another Mess


This is getting monotonous.

I don't call him "my Marley" for nothing. Overstock.com's wacky CEO Patrick Byrne went on a rampage in the wee hours this morning, overturning tables, chewing carpets--and, while he was at it, destroying any pretense of separation between Overstock.com and his personal smear site, Deep Capture.

Seems that Byrne received an email from white collar crime-fighter Sam Antar, whose analysis of Overstock's accounting recently caused the SEC to reopen an investigation of the company. He had made a polite request to appear on Byrne's upcoming third quarter conference call. His email read as follows:

Patrick:

I recently learned that Overstock.com scheduled its Q3 2009 conference call for November 3, 2009. If you agree, I would like to participate in that call like other analysts and ask questions about Overstock.com’s financial disclosures. Please let me know by Monday if you will let me participate in the conference call.

Sam

That will never do. After all, Byrne was expecting his usual audience of quietly terrified brokerage house analysts, asking softball questions and ignoring the elephant in the room--that Overstock has systematically cooked the books.

So Byrne immediately went berserk on his Deep Capture smear site, posting Sam's email and a sneering, Jew-baiting response denying the request, saying that Sam could only ask four questions of up to 25 words, sent in advance via email.

This happened shortly before dawn Utah time. That assumes Byrne actually is in Utah, where he makes believe he runs the company, and not in New York, preparing to march in the Halloween Parade, perhaps disguised as a law-abiding corporate executive.

Byrne has every reason to be terrified of Sam, and to go off his nut whenever he hears from him. After all, if it wasn't for Sam, he wouldn't be under a newly reopened SEC investigation.

But evidently Byrne forgot that he has repeatedly argued that Deep Capture has "nothing to do with Overstock," even though he founded it, funds it, it focuses on trashing the company's critics, and it runs on Overstock's Internet servers. Sam's email had nothing to do with Byrne's pet "naked short selling" cause.

Byrne also forgot that he makes it a practice to open the conference call to persons unaffiliated with brokerage houses when it serves his purposes, notably when he allowed a character named Phil Saunders, a/k/a "Bob O'Brien," to participate in a January 2005 conference call.

If the SEC is serious in its current investigation--which has yet to be demonstrated--it won't shrug off this latest episode as merely another example of a crazy CEO not acting his age.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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