Patrick M. Byrne, Chairman and CEO, launched Overstock.com in 1999 with revenues of $1.8 million. In 2013 Overstock.com had revenues of $1.3 billion and net income of $88.5 million. Forbes magazine named Overstock.com the No. 9 Best Company to Work for in the Country for 2010, and Byrne the CEO with the highest employee approval rating (92%). Byrne received the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
In 2001, Byrne began Worldstock Fair Trade, an Overstock.com division selling handcrafted products from artisans in developing nations. The department distinguishes itself by returning 60-70% of the sale price to artisans (to date, $100 million has been paid to Worldstock’s artisan suppliers). In addition, all Worldstock net profits are donated to fund philanthropic projects in several countries. Worldstock and Byrne have funded the building of 26 self-sustaining schools internationally that currently educate thousands of students.
A “classical liberal,” Byrne believes that our nation’s success depends on a sound educational system and a healthy capital market. Since Milton Friedman’s passing in 2006, Byrne has served as chairman of The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an organization leading the national debate for school vouchers.
Towards the goal of clean capital markets, in 2004 Byrne (as a citizen-journalist) began a vigorous campaign against abusive Wall Street practices, focusing on regulatory capture, hedge fund "expert network" (insider trading) schemes, settlement system failures, systemic risk, and the possibility of economic warfare against the US by Organized Crime and foreign governments. His stance quickly caught the attention of Wall Street analysts and reporters and became a point of high controversy and ridicule until the economic crash of 2008, occasioned by the very things Byrne had warned of. Byrne's website DeepCapture.com has received much recognition, such as Weblogs Award "Best Business Blog" (2008), Business Pundit's "Best Business Investigative Journalism" (2009), and Xmark's "Top Site on Corruption in the USA" (2010).
Before founding Overstock.com and serving as chairman, CEO, and president, Byrne held the same three positions at Centricut, LLC, a manufacturer of consumables for industrial plasma torches, and held the same three positions at Fechheimer Brothers, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, manufacturing police, firefighter and military uniforms.
He tells me this during a phone call from his car, a black Tesla Model S that’s winding its way through the mountains above Salt Lake City, on its way to Byrne’s home in the Utah ski country. Byrne is the CEO and chairman of Salt Lake’s Overstock.com, one of the world’s largest online retailers with more than $1.3 billion a year in sales, and he’s about to place an enormous bet on bitcoin, the digital currency that exists only on the internet.