New York Times, August 23, 2019. One of those headlines that you never thought you would read. Of course, the Wall Street Journal was more measured, to wit, “Overstock CEO Ends Turbulent Tenure, August 24-25, 2019.
How exactly do these folks climb to the top of the heap? And in this case, how did Patrick Byrne manage to remain at the top of the Overstock heap for 20 years? Even in departing, the man poked investors in the eye with hints at suitors (for the company, and not from Russia). Where were the directors as the company’s stock dropped 31% over the past year even as sales dropped each quarter? And did Byrne’s tales of the Wall Street demon Sith Lord, Warren Buffett being his romance advice provider, and “Men in Black” deep state not intrigue the directors enough to pull the plug? Perhaps most importantly, did the strategic shift from selling rugs, chairs, and furniture to cryptocurrency not concern them?
Behind every bizarre CEO is a lackluster board with hopes that it will all go away. It never does until the CEO does. Think Uber, and even then, the damage may be too great. Rein them in, folks, rein in these iconic CEOs and save yourselves and the company.