Our story so far:

Back on December 9th, my young niece informed me (via Facebook) that she had discovered her name publicly posted on a DeepCapture website.

That was the first discovery of the “Facebook Friends scraping” operation.

My assumption was that the asshats at DeepCapture had exploited a Facebook security lapse, and grabbed all of the friends and family of any one who had the temerity to so much as discuss this 3rd rate retailer, Overstock.com. (See DeepCapture.com Scraping Facebook Friends).

The reality turned out to be far more insidious than that: A career douche bag (and possible pedarast) named Judd Bagley decided to engage in some fraudulent pretexting. He assumed a false persona on Facebook, using someone else’s name and photo (perhaps committing a Felony in NYS). He then began cyber-stalking the children, friends and family of numerous journalists, bloggers and fund mangers. After friending all the kiddies, Bagley posted their names, friends, etc. at the Deep Capture site.

At that point, I had seen enough. I spoke to my lawyer (more on this later), then I put up a post titled Boycott Overstock.com. (Note that legal counsel is only allowing me to reference items already published publicly. There are other things I am not at liberty to discuss — yet)

One would think that the CEO of an online retailer might have enough common sense not to piss off the blogosphere before the Christmas shopping season. That assumes all retail CEOs are not functional idiots; As it turns out, what appears to be the case for only most retail CEOs.

Our story continues: Soon thereafter, a modest article appeared in the NY Observer about the pretexter/possible pederast. It was to my eyes, way too generous considering the sleazoid subject of the article, who, in addition to stalking children online, is a probable sociopath (look it up — the shoe fits).

The fun never stops: Today in The Big Money, former Fortune writer Roddy Boyd delivers a brutal smackdown on the clueless CEO who has ran Overstock.com into the ground: Titled America’s Nastiest CEO, it is about a Overstock.com executive Patrick Byrne.

Rather than excerpt it, I can briefly sumarize: Overstock has engaged in a variety of actions and inactions that are likely to subject it to various future civil, regulatory and tax proceedings in various courts. The heart of the article reflects a tax scam run by the firm to avoid paying New York State retail sales taxes. I would expect the New York and/or the SEC to use Boyd’s article as a road map for any prosecution. It is clear upon first reading this article that not only is this a disastrous retail operation, but it is run by a deeply disturbed individual who seems to have never tripped across “The Truth” even by accident.

But you have yet to hear the most amusing part: Gary Weiss points out that the trading in Overstock today reflects some frantic sellers in advance of this brutal article. Someone appears to have known that bad news was coming, and they dumped plenty of shares.Its something else for the SEC to investigate — whether or not insiders at Ovestock dumped shares, or warned others to do the same.

Source: Suspicious Trading Ahead of Devastating Article on Overstock.com’s Sales Tax Dodge

>

Here is a bit of irony: On paper, you might be led to think that Byrne is a bright guy — undergrad at Dartmouth, a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford, a Marshall scholar. It just goes to show you that having book smarts, being people savvy and possessing common sense can all be mutually exclusive.

The whole sordid tale of Overstock.com has one rule of thumb here that investors should learn for their own benefit: Anytime a CEO complains about short sellers, run dont walk to the nearest exit.

>

Source:
America’s Nastiest CEO
Think business journalists are too timid? Look what happens when you go after a struggling firm.
By Roddy Boyd
The Big Money, January 19, 2010 – 4:31pm
http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/judgments/2010/01/19/americas-nastiest-ceo?page=full

Category: Legal, Really, really bad calls, Retail

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

45 Responses to “Is Patrick Byrne America’s Nastiest Dumbest CEO?”

  1. flipspiceland says:

    BR

    It’s best if you lower your expectations. Unless you don’t mind or can at least tolerate, the sometimes fatal frustration of the hell of ‘other people’

    I believe it might have been HL Mencken who said that.

  2. Mannwich says:

    Wow, Barry. The idiocy and lunacy never ceases to amaze. Is somewhat entertaining though. I’ll take what I can get at this point. Sorry to hear about your experience with this nit-wit.

    Knowing our bizarro-world culture today, Mr. Byrne will be named the next Treasury Secretary or Head of the SEC.

  3. rktbrkr says:

    I see BB volunteered for an audit of the l’affaire AIG just before he comes up for renewal, jeez, what a coincidence.

    It sounds like he is setting the scope of the audit (“not MEEE”) which means it’s not an independent audit – and not a real audit. What’s really required is an audit thats conducted as part of an investigation by an independent counsel.The magnitude and everything else about it screams for an investigation, not a white wash apparent audit scoped out by the auditee.

  4. Danny Boy says:

    Hey, you should make the Boycott an annual event!

    Let them know they are pissing off the wrong people . . .

  5. From 5 years ago:

    PHANTOM MENACE
    FORTUNE Magazine, November 14, 2005

    Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne is waging an EXTRAORDINARY CAMPAIGN against short-sellers. The hedge fund guys say he has underperformed. He says they are tools of a sinister “SITH LORD.”

    Even hardened denizens of Wall Street were shocked by a conference call that Patrick Byrne, the CEO of online retailer Overstock.com, held on Aug. 12. “I want to get something off my chest,” Byrne announced. Then he launched into a rant about a “miscreants ball” in which he mentioned hedge funds, journalists, investigators, trial lawyers, the SEC, and even Eliot Spitzer. “I believe there’s been a plan since we were in our teens to destroy our stock, drive it down to $6–$10 … and even a plan for how the company would then get whacked up.” The “designated final owner,” who provided the “orchestration,” was someone Byrne dubbed the “Sith Lord,” a person he refused to identify other than to say that “he’s one of the master criminals from the 1980s.” And that’s just the basic outline. There was more. As Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor, later wrote on his blog, “Never before in the history of Wall Street has a single conference call mentioned the following topics: miscreants, an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under a prison, gay bathhouses, whether he is gay, does cocaine, both or neither, and an obligatory ‘not that there is anything wrong with that,’ phone taps, phone lines misdirected to Mexico, arrested reporters, payoffs, conspiracies, crooks, egomaniacs, fools, paranoia, which newspapers are shills and for who, payoffs, money laundering, his Irish temper, false identities, threats, intimidation, and private investigators. All in 61 minutes.” Cuban is now short 20,000 shares of Overstock.

  6. bobmitchell says:

    I’d go a little further. Anytime the CEO has a ‘face shot’ that looks like it belongs in seventeen magazine, run…

  7. catman says:

    mr. Bryne has always struck me as one who protests too much – instead of minding the store. As to his scholastic wallpaper, watching the likes of Byrne, Gretchen Carlson and Pat Robertson, all of whom have an impressive collection of shingles, has brought home the importance of kissing ass.

  8. Mike in Nola says:

    Barry, what was the reason for the strikeout in the title?

    ~~~

    BR: The headline of the Big Money piece was “America’s Nastiest CEO

    I always like to make the post headline different from the media articles, and when I read the background of this CEO, it was apparent to me that his nastiness was not the story — it was his intelligence and lack of judgment. Despite Ivy league credentials, it turns out this guy is plain ole dumb.

    And there was my headline!

  9. “Hey, you should make the Boycott an annual event!

    Let them know they are pissing off the wrong people . . .” ??

    Boycotts Work! and, hello, Work best when ‘permanent’..

    Why would anyone buy anything from a Firm, at any Time, when they see fit to Boycott them, at all?

  10. Bala says:

    “It just goes to show you that having book smarts, being people savvy and possessing common sense can all be mutually exclusive.” –

    Oddly, under current conditions – the more deficient a person is in any of these areas, the more successful they’ll likely be.

  11. Rogue Medic says:

    Anytime a CEO complains about short sellers, run don’t walk to the nearest exit.

    If we really wanted to educate investors, we might want to require that they put at least 1% of their investments into shorts, or puts, or similar short side investments. If they chose not to, have them contribute that 1% as a tax. Call it a stupidity tax.

    We need to start to look at investments as things that are expected to behave based on their merits, rather than expected to go up, because that is the American way. We should understand that criticism of a stock, or a company, is not evil shorts manipulating the market, but more likely shorts pointing out misbehavior by company boards.

    Reflexive defensiveness in the face of increased shorting is just a defense of the corruption that has led to Enron and similar scams.

  12. emmanuel117 says:

    Another fine product of the Ivy League.

  13. mwd says:

    If you thought (macro) economics academia was based on absurd premises, wait until you get a grasp on some of the modern (or specifically post-modern) philosophy. It is effectively a deconstruction of objective truth, and resorts to merely the perception of the individual as the standard of rule (only for the individual who is perceiving).

  14. TheInterest says:

    “Anytime a CEO complains about short sellers, run dont walk to the nearest exit.”

    That’s funny. At 3:35 in this video (www youtube com/watch?v=M_FZO9-ZIWU), Byrne says “Short selling is great….(but) there’s a difference between sexual harassment and sex. There’s a difference between naked short selling and short selling.”

    So, no, your comment on running to the exits, doesn’t apply.

    ~~~

    BR: I disagree. The entire naked shorting campaign is a massive act of misdirection from a money losing firm with a history of accounting problems, audit issues and allegations of tax fraud.

    Go back and chart the history of the campaign against the Sith Lords.

    Each bizzarre pronouncement was a warning to sell this dog.

  15. troubled times says:

    One postive development brought on by Patrick . I discovered what a good blog Barry has here

  16. luisleyes says:

    Did you acually call that guy a pedophile? Well I suppose it’s a good thing you have that attorney. You might want to keep his number handy.

    ~~~

    BR: The precise phrase was “possible pederast.”

    Anyone who uses a false identity online and that starts friending children is definitely a fraud, factually a cyber-stalker, and possibly a pederast.

    Hence, “possible pederast.”

    And of course, in Libel Litigation, Truth is a defense — that means in any subsequent action, I get to depose this creep for days about his entire life history, including details of his sex life. That plus what the private investigators find, which will then be widely published.

  17. Ha! You can almost hear the rubber band getting tighter. At some point will come the snapback. Sad to hear about your relatives. That is the lowest in cowardice to fight someone in such a dishonorable way. It pretty much implies that you can’t have any close social ties in order to do battle in the public realm. Coincidentally, that is what many of these folks who fight that way are like

  18. m111ark says:

    Wall Street has always been a den of thieves. As Gerald Celente always says, if the white shoe boys had names like Cellini, Gambini, etc., they’d be seen as the criminals they are. Patrick Byrne has been on a crusade against naked shorts for a long time so it’s not unusual that a wall street denizen would denigrate him. True or not BR, you’re not elevating your status, at least with me, (but then, who cares, right) with such words.

  19. I have been extremely critical of Wall Street, and in an honest, productive, truth finding way. On the other hand, this guy is a liar and a tax fraud and an accounting disaster and a freak.

    If you cannot distinguish between the two, if you don’t understand what misdirection is, then I question your judgment.

    I am proud to have fools and suckers not “elevate my status;” It is a badge of honor to be disliked by all the wrong people.

  20. Tolman Quit says:

    Let’s hope the acting US Attorney for Utah takes securities fraud and on-line child molestation more seriously than the previous one did. He was so pathetic that the USAO in Eastern PA had to work all of his penny stock cases for him. I suppose he was too busy polishing Senator Bennett’s wingtips or something.

  21. SAM ANTAR says:

    Trouble a coming:

    Roddy Boyd Article Will Cause SEC to Expand Investigation of Overstock.com and Probably Result in Sales Tax Investigation by New York

    The Big Money published an article by investigative reporter Roddy Boyd will result in an expanding Securities and Exchange Commission of Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK) and probably a new investigation by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for possible tax evasion by the company. Big Money obtained internal Overstock.com documents showing how the company withheld material information from investors about the company’s internal control problems and liquidity problems in 2005 and 2006. The article details how CEO Patrick Byrne systematically intimidated, harassed, and attacked his critics to cover up mounting problems at the company. Perhaps the most surprising revelation of Roddy Boyd’s article is Overstock.com’s efforts to evade paying New York State sales tax in what was known as “Operation Heist and Freeze.”

    The Securities and Exchange Commission, which started investigating Overstock.com after this blog exposed its improper use of “cookie jar” reserves to inflate its financial performance, will surely expand its investigation based on information provided in Roddy Boyd’s article. For example, the article details that internal Overstock.com documents revealed that the company’s “software system couldn’t track its inventory well, its accounting staff had trouble deciphering how much it owed and whom it had to pay.”

  22. Fair warning: As per our terms of use, trolls (including OSTK employee/PR folks) will have their email/IP address will accompany their comments.

    We have a strict ” NO TROLLS” policy around here…

  23. luisleyes says:

    Are you saying he friended your niece on Facebook? I don’t think that’s true.

    ~~~

    BR: Your massive projection is showing. Only a liar would make a baseless statement/question like this.

    I write this not for luisleyes — you appear to be either an idiot or a DC/OSTK troll or both –but for anyone else reading this.

    I found out about this when my niece discovered the list via a Google alert. I posted on it December 9th — that was the first metnion of the DeepCapture scraping.

    TROLL DATA:

    luisleyes:
    tehkinks@gmail.com
    166.205.8.68

    Now go get another phony email address

  24. SamAntar says:

    Judd Bagley attempted to friend my son on Facebook.

  25. luisleyes says:

    How old is your son, Sam?

    ~~~

    BR: IMO you are either a sick fuck or Judd Bagely or both.

    Regardless, I am stopping this creepy line of comments, and putting luisleyes comments into moderation requiring editor approval.

  26. SamAntar says:

    Hey luisleyes aka dumb dumb. Are you saying that it is OK for Judd Bagley to befriend my son on Facebook under false pretenses and by using a phony identification to spy on me and other family members on behalf of Patrick Byrne?

  27. Diane Tucker says:

    Is it my imagination or does “luisleyes” sound just like Byrne/Bagley in this pathetic attempt to misdirect the conversation away from identity theft, which is a crime and one helluva thing for an online retailer to be accused of?

  28. Bokolis says:

    Being a functional idiot meself, I disagree with your assessment of this guy. I’d say, anywhere from 85% – 90% of us are functional idiots. This guy is a fool.

  29. troubled times says:

    How will Overstock’s new auditor take this Roddy Boyd story ?

  30. HarryWanger says:

    Get him Barry! Ok, I’m heading off to short OSTK!

  31. After I published luisleyes‘ IP address, other sites tagged me to inform me of his attempt to publish similar nonsense elsewhere (under various names, including luisleyes and “Filipo” )

    Based on this, there is an extremely high probability that luisleyes is either another Jeff Bagley pseudonym, or a deep capture troll, or some other employee of Overstock.com.

    This attempt to perpetrate a fraud on the readers of this blog will have future consequences.

    TROLL DATA:

    luisleyes:
    tehkinks@gmail.com
    166.205.8.68

  32. SamAntar says:

    troubled times Says: “How will Overstock’s new auditor take this Roddy Boyd story ?”

    Back in the day, KPMG liked the Antar management team at Crazy Eddie and took us as an audit client.

  33. Rogue Medic says:

    The Interest,

    “(but) there’s a difference between sexual harassment and sex. There’s a difference between naked short selling and short selling.”

    Interesting that he has to bring a sexual reference into this. Possibly just another sign of a trend in the behavior of people running OSTK.

    There is a difference between absolute zero and zero. Does that change anything about this behavior (that we are supposed to classify as innocent, at least until the jury verdict is in, or will they enter a plea)?

    luisleyes:
    tehkinks@gmail.com
    166.205.8.68,

    “Did you acually call that guy a pedophile? Well I suppose it’s a good thing you have that attorney. You might want to keep his number handy.”

    That would only be a problem if this were written in Britain, where the libel laws are designed to protect the criminal element (politicians, alternative medicine quacks, stock swindlers, and other frauds).

    The Quackometer has some information about why the libel laws in Britain are sought out by those trying to silence honest criticism.

    http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/05/bogus-law.html

    All the complainant has to do is show that they have some sort of reputation worth defending and that the accused party has made a statement that has defamed them. There is no requirement to show that this statement is untrue or not fair comment. Nor indeed is there indeed any requirement to show that you have suffered any loss.

    An accusation of libel is just a way to try to silence critics, when there is no real defense.

  34. bobabouey says:

    Barry,

    Sympathize with your views, especially given any contact with children, but I’d still be a little careful on the “possible pederast” comments. I believe that even if truth is an absolute defense, the burden is on the defendant, so you are unlikely to be permitted a massive fishing expedition in depositions / discovery.

    Just my two cents. Unlikely you’d ever get sued anyway, but since I know you are a (reformed) lawyer, figured you might find the information useful (I’m also a reformed lawyer, was aware of general concepts of defamation and defenses, but wasn’t aware of the per-se distinction until I was dragged into a libel defense case).

    Bob

    ~~~

    BR: No reputation to damage.

    “Possible” is the escape valve

  35. dt says:

    It appears that “The Big Big O” was faked…

    On a more serious note, I do hope this guy can be legally defanged somehow. Stupid and dangerous is a really bad combination.

  36. sport_prospect says:

    Bethany McLean-

    I like your work. I am in great company here.

  37. TrickStyle says:

    i shopped at overstock for snowboarding boots, now the ads follow me everywhere i go. ironically, even on this blog as i was reading about byrne and co.

  38. ToNYC says:

    It might be refreshing to remember that all Garbage Dumps are in Overstock mode. It’s literally where Demand went to die and presided over by he who would pitch it your way. The best of everything is what I like, and there is precious little of that. Aside, I remember an early morning Squawk talk with Becky Quick burying her true fangs into Patrick Byrnes’s leg (Man, she can be vicious) , before she married the producer and become the mouthpiece for Uncle Warren Buffett, the kindly vulture Capitalist.

  39. SamAntar says:

    Overstock.com is an online retailer that does not respect the online privacy of people.

  40. bruerr says:

    Blog wars? Damn Barry you call for boycott of OSTK, who does how much self-regulation of the Sub-prime Markets for the last 5 years, and has bundled how many “packages,” distributed them in how many cities and cost the tax payers HOW MUCH … ? … You know the whole time the New York Banking Associations has been ass raping the Sons and Daughters of America, funny that – did not hear nor see you call for a boycott of one New York based bank.

    Boycott the market – don’t invest if this is how they are going to act to evade corporate liability and individual liability for their mistakes, both executive CEOs and Boards of Directors who appointed them.

    Thank god you got your righteous horse out for this guy though. …Hold on Imma Bring Down the Mare.

  41. bruerr

    I don’t know what to say to your comments, except to seriously, where TF have you been for the since 2005?

    I spent 5 years warning about banks/credit/housing/derivatives Then I wrote a book all but calling bankers fucking assholes, calling out their CEOs, trashing the massive pay they gave themselves, and how ineptly they ran their firms. I repeatedly advocated letting the TBTF banks die, and not rescuing insolvent banks, but instead forcing them into bankruptcy.

    And that somehow is letting them off the hook? On what planet?

    ~~~

    Besides, none of the banks ever cyberstaulked/pretexted any of my minor family members

  42. TrickStyle says:

    Barry, far be it from me to stroke your already well-stroked ego, but seriously, in this case, regarding your retort to bruerr, and in partial, very tangential, (and extemporaneous) honor to Mark E “The Punctuator” Hoffer, “Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself!” You have been doing a great job addressing these issues for years. – TrickStyle

  43. Thanks —

    But my ego is hardly stroked — I feel like I am pretty much the same jackass I have always been.

    The only difference between now and 10 years ago is I am maybe a little more experienced, have a nicer car, and weigh 20 pounds more

  44. Sam says:

    Item 5.02 Departure of Directors or Certain Officers; Election of Directors; Appointment of Certain Officers; Compensatory Arrangements of Certain Officers

    (b) On January 20, 2010 Mr. David K. Chidester left by mutual agreement, effective immediately, from his position as Senior Vice President, Internal Reporting and Information, of Overstock.com, Inc. (the “Company”).

  45. [...] at least one person in the Overstock.com crew who would likely keep going strong – PR Guy and “possible pederast” Judd [...]