Patrick M. Byrne
In late 1999, Patrick M. Byrne launched Overstock.com, which achieved its first profitable quarter in 2002 and its first full year of profitability in 2009. In 2016, Overstock.com had revenues of $1.8 billion and its seventh out of eight straight years of profitability.
In 2001, Byrne began Worldstock Fair Trade, an Overstock.com division selling handcrafted products from artisans in developing nations. Worldstock profits have been donated to fund philanthropic projects, including building 26 self-sustaining schools across Asia and Africa educating thousands of students. Byrne also created the Main Street Revolution marketplace for small American entrepreneurs, a pet adoption service that has connected people with 75,000 pets in less than two years, and Farmers Market which now makes fresh, locally grown produce available to 45% of the US population.
In 2010, Forbes magazine named Overstock.com the No. 9 Best Company to Work for in the Country, and Byrne the CEO with the highest employee approval rating (92%). In 2011, Ernst & Young gave Byrne its National Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2014, Overstock.com was named one of the Most Trustworthy Companies in America by Forbes/MSCI ESG Research.
A “classical liberal,” Byrne believes that our nation’s success depends on education and capital markets. Since Milton Friedman’s passing in 2006, Byrne has served as chairman of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice (now “EdChoice”), an organization leading the national push for school choice. Toward the goal of clean capital markets, in 2004 Byrne began a vigorous citizen-journalist campaign focusing on regulatory capture, hedge fund mischief, settlement system failures, systemic risk, and the possibility of economic warfare against the US by organized crime and foreign governments. His stance caught the attention of Wall Street analysts and reporters, becoming a point of high controversy until the crash of 2008, occasioned by many of the things of which Byrne had warned. Byrne's website DeepCapture.com subsequently 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).
In 2012, when no firm of $1 million in revenue yet accepted bitcoin as a payment method, Byrne’s pro-freedom political orientation led him to decide that Overstock.com, then with $1.4 billion in revenue, should accept the digital currency. Having gained familiarity with blockchain technology at the heart of digital currencies such as bitcoin, Byrne created Medici Ventures, a subsidiary within Overstock.com building blockchain-based financial technology solutions. In 2015, Byrne used Medici’s t0.com securities trading platform to become the first person to purchase a digital bond entirely on the bitcoin blockchain. Byrne made history again in Dec 2016, when Overstock.com issued the first shares ever traded on an alternative trading system (ATS) utilizing distributed ledger technology.
Byrne received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Asian studies from Dartmouth College, a master’s in philosophy from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, and a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University. Having taught at the university level, he is a frequent guest lecturer discussing internet commerce, capital markets, Wall Street practices, education, leadership and ethics.
Patrick Byrne gave the F.A. Hayek Memorial Lecture "Entrepreneurship, Austrian Economics and the Cryptorevolution," at the 2015 AERC.
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Education and Background:
Patrick Byrne holds a certificate from Beijing Normal University, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese studies from Dartmouth College, a master's degree from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University.
He was a teaching fellow at Stanford University from 1989 to 1991 and was manager of Blackhawk Investment Co. and Elissar, Inc. He served as chairman, president and CEO of Centricut, LLC, a manufacturer of industrial torches, then held the same three positions at Fechheimer Brothers, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company manufacturing police, firefighter, and military uniforms, and is a former chairman of Berkshire Hathaway's GEICO insurance subsidiary and White Mountains Insurance Group.
In early 1999, Dr. Patrick M. Byrne recognized the potential in liquidating excess inventory through the Internet. Up until then, bargain-seeking consumers had relied upon far-off outlet centers with crowds and limited product selections. In addition, small retailers had little access into the world of closeout merchandise. Online shopping was still in its early stage, but six months later, and with no outside funding, Overstock.com launched with the mission to be the premier company to sell excess inventory through the Internet. Overstock.com quickly became an online leader in a market valued at $60 billion in the United States. Overstock.com's GAAP revenue has grown from $1.8 million in 1999 to nearly $1.3 billion in 2013. Overstock.com offers over one million products on its site. Since its October 1999 launch, Overstock.com customers have saved millions of dollars off manufacturers' recommended retail prices.
Overstock.com is a Utah-based company, employing over 1,500 people. Overstock.com encourages its employees to participate in the community and has developed a great esprit de corps from participating in food drives, the Salt Lake Clean Air Challenge, and many other community projects.
In January 2011, Overstock.com acquired the O.co URL and began incorporating it into parts of its brand. The name change was applied to Overstock.com's international and mobile businesses, the cars business, as well as the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. Overstock.com CEO Dr. Patrick M. Byrne has said, "When we first started our business in 1999, we only sold surplus inventory. We are no longer just an online liquidator. Our current offerings span from furniture and home decor to cars. We want an identity that more accurately reflects our company as it has evolved: hence 'O.co'. We still carry all of the same products and have award-winning customer service, the same $2.95 or lower national shipping and customized shopping features."