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A Shaolin monk, Warren Buffett and a Russian mobster walk into a bar…

A day in the life of Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne

server room

Radio Reg Death threats from the Russian mob, a war on Wall Street, Wikipedia puke, Warren Buffett. Where to begin?

For years, I've tracked the movements of Patrick Byrne, CEO at online retailer Overstock.com. Byrne has a tendency to elevate technology business stories from the mundane to the fantastic. Take, for example, his claims that US financial markets are being destroyed by a collective of unethical traders abusing a practice known as naked short selling.

People have called Byrne's crusade against naked short selling insane. They've charged that Byrne was simply looking for an excuse to explain away the punishing his company's share price has taken. Always audacious and flamboyant, Byrne has argued that his fight against naked short selling has nothing to do with Overstock. It has to do with solidifying the US financial markets and making sure that shareholders actually own what they've paid for.

Funny enough, the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week appeared to side with Byrne's camp. The SEC is calling for tougher regulations around naked short selling.

Perhaps Byrne is less insane that his critics would have you believe.

Er, but we're still not so sure.

That's because everything about Byrne seems to verge on the surreal. He grew up learning about economics and life from the world's wealthiest man - Warren Buffett. He survived cancer three times before hitting 30. He hired an "Erin Brokovitch" as a temporary worker only to see her go on to run huge parts of Overstock and to launch the company's ultra-successful, ultra-sexy ad campaign.

Episode 14 of Semi-Coherent Computing - The Slow Burn - is a mammoth program that touches on all of these issues. I'm not kidding. It's a beast.

Now, you can complain about the length or you can enjoy it in chunks. I recommend the second option.

Byrne came out to our Mountain View office, joining me and our internet editor Cade "Cimbo" Metz.

The sound quality of the show is not our best to date. I do apologize for that and am working to rectify the problems. Still, I think it comes through well, especially with such stellar material doing the dirty work.

Have at her.

Semi-Coherent Computing - Episode 14

Open source types can get Ogged and Vorbed here, those plagued by low-bandwidth can catch a smaller, crappier quality show here or a medium-sized show here.

You can also grab the show off iTunes here or subscribe to the show via this feed.

Show Notes

Thanks for your ears. ®

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