In the proud American tradition of pointless award giving, I present to you the very first Soul Kerfuffle Man of the Year...
Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com.
You're probably passingly familiar with Overstock.com (aka "The Big O"), which is basically an Amazon.com clone with only moderately competitive prices and a reputation for horrible customer service. Their commercials typically involve a blonde woman utilizing some of the many items she has found on "The Big O" in lamely suggestive ways.
You're probably less familiar with the wild antics of Patrick Byrne, however. In the past year, "The Big CEO" has pulled the following stunts:
- Claimed he was both gay and a coke addict to financial analysts
- Claimed that the mob was out to get him and would probably plant drugs and dead bodies in his car
- Appeared on Bloomberg TV to declare to a bewildered investment world that holiday sales were "a tad disappointing" (typically, bad sales are announced via a tightly worded press release)
- Accused a number of people, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, of a conspiracy to short his stock
- Referred to a "Sith Lord" as the leader of said conspiracy
What truly distinguished Dr. Byrne this year was a conference call he held on August 12, wherein he was supposed to be explaining a lawsuit that had been filed in California court on Overstock.com's behalf.
What we got a rambling mental meltdown the likes of which I don't think I've personally ever seen at the CEO level in corporate America. Included were such gems as:
- "On the coke head thing, and by the way, I’ve never, with one exception, I’ve never even seen cocaine in my life so in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not a coke head."
- "Channel B I put information down that I was a coke head. Now my apologies to my gay friends, both within and without, outside the company, I don’t mean to equate the two. I don’t care. I’m a libertarian and I don’t care at all."
- "I acknowledge that he sounded like he lined his hat with tinfoil."
- "So, here's a box I'm going to put some hedge fund folks. I've got to put all the miscreants in the box marked 'miscreant hedge funds'."
"As this went on I started realizing that there was actually some more orchestration here being provided, by what I'm calling here is the Sith Lord or the mastermind. Now, can I tell you who that designated bottom feeder was who was supposed to end up with our company? Can I tell you? I can. But I'm not going to today."
It's even better on audio, which you can get here.