A Shaolin monk, Warren Buffett and a Russian mobster walk into a bar…
A day in the life of Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne
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.
- The Miscreant's Ball Call and the Sith Lord
- Deep Capture
- Wkipedia bans Utah
- Meet Gary Weiss
- Corporate Voting Charade - PDF
Thanks for your ears. ®
wisdom speech link?
Could we get a link to the 'life changing' wisdom speech referred to early on in the interview?
Many thanks to all for what was a fascinating and inspiring interview and best of luck to Patrick in his battle.
responses from patrick
Thanks for your kind words. Glad it was of itnerest. I agree with the commenter who said he thought the sound quality was fine, but I am not an audiophile like so many other listeners apparently are.
On the "wriggler" front: I think I made that slang up. Not sure. Seems to fit. And the point was not so much to defend their choice of lifestyle (I'm a libertarian, and pretty agnostic about such matters), as to refuse to buy in to the fact that our society denigrates the one but lionizes the Wall Street thief who steals billions. I wanted to defend Stormy without buying into that denigration. That was the best way I could put it.
Congrats to Ashlee on being among the first to get what is going on.
Hiring People Who Will do Anything For Money
"I count several wrigglers and escorts among my friends, consider these women finer human beings than the average denizen of Wall Street, and would have no objection to hiring any of them"
Unless they are repentant about their past, I'd be very wary of hiring someone who has shown that they will do absolutely anything for money to any position of importance. I'm sure they are "resourceful" enough that you can get 10 years if caught.
That sort of behavior is different from the Wall Street behavior you complain about only in scale and opportunity.
A bar, eh?
They all sit down at the bar. The monk says to Warren Buffett: Silence and abstention from earthly goals are the key to enlightenment. Buffet says - Indeed; I speak very little and still live in a modest dwelling.
Then the Russian mobster shoots both of them and leaves.
Seemed OK to me
I didn't notice anything annoying in fact it seemed one of the better episodes in terms of audio quality, but then it could just be the way I listen (speakers not headphones ) or the format og though I can't see how that could be.
What an amazing interview, there is enough material there to keep a journalist in pop-tarts and bottled water for a long time. Nicely done.