Overstock director picks Wall Street over crusade

Fisher tossed back

Overstock.com appears to have a lost a board member due to its $3.4bn lawsuit against Wall Street.

The online retailer today announced John A. Fisher's resignation in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. "The Company believes that the reason for Mr. Fisher’s resignation was his disagreement with the company’s pursuit of litigation it has filed in California against several prominent prime brokerage firms," Overstock said in the filing. Fisher, who has deep ties to Wall Street, served on Overstock's board since 2002 and was a member of the company's audit and compensation committees.

As a result of the departure, Overstock can no longer claim a majority of independent directors and intends to "take prompt action" to rectify the situation.

Earlier this month, Overstock sued a dozen prominent brokerage firms, alleging a "massive, illegal stock market manipulation scheme."

CEO Patrick Byrne has spent the last couple of years complaining about a supposed Wall Street conspiracy designed to cripple Overstock via the naked short selling of its stock.

A good sport, Byrne describes the Wall Street attack as "Lawsuit (CEO's Crusade)" on Overstock's web site. It would seem, however, that Fisher found the matter less amusing, having worked at a number of investment banks in the past.

Last July, Byrne's father John resigned from Overstock's board as well.

Byrne backers hail the flamboyant CEO as a crusader for shareholders' rights who is in the process of uncovering major short selling improprieties on Wall Street. Critics portray Byrne as an obsessed activist who spends too much time watching Wall Street and too little time running Overstock.

The company continues to post large losses and has suffered from a sales slowdown, customer service problems and massive IT issues.

But it has a really cute spokeswoman, which is nice. ®

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