For some time now, Mr. Byrne has been saying that his company is the victim of a Wall Street conspiracy intended to drive down its stock, which has fallen to the mid-20's from the mid-70's since the fall of 2004. Last August, Overstock sued Rocker Partners, a short-selling hedge fund that has been openly negative on the company, and Gradient Analytics, an independent research firm that has written consistently bearish reports on Overstock's mounting business problems.
The lawsuit asserted that the two firms were acting in concert to hurt the company and manipulate its stock price. Both Donn W. Vickrey, who runs Gradient Analytics, and David A. Rocker, the managing partner of Rocker Partners, have been sources for Mr. Greenberg over the years. And Mr. Greenberg has written about Overstock and Mr. Byrne from time to time, in his typically tough-minded fashion.Which of course makes Mr. Greenberg a charter member of the Overstock conspiracy. To hear Mr. Byrne tell it, Mr. Greenberg's role is to do the bidding of Rocker Partners and Gradient Analytics; when asked last year by Ron Insana of CNBC whether he was accusing Mr. Greenberg of "helping others front-run or trade illegally in the shares of your company's stock," Mr. Byrne replied, "That's correct, that's what I am doing." He described Mr. Greenberg to me as a "lapdog."
Although Mr. Byrne says he did not know about the subpoena, he clearly knew something was afoot. (He later told me that he had "just come from an interview with certain law enforcement people" who had been asking about Mr. Greenberg.) "As I take a sip," he taunted in his e-mail, "I find myself curious: do you guys know? Are you sitting somewhere, blithely oblivious, still
chuckling about Whacky Patty, and all that? Or do you understand now that this is going to end badly for you?"
IF you know anything about Patrick Byrne, it's probably his famous "Sith Lord" conference call. Held last summer, it was an hourlong monologue during which Mr. Byrne laid out a vast, overarching conspiracy, made up of dozens of Wall Street players — including the New York
attorney general, Eliot Spitzer! — all under the thumb of an mysterious puppet master, whom Mr. Byrne labeled the Sith Lord. He titled the conspiracy "The Miscreants' Ball," an obvious reference to Michael Milken's old Predators' Ball.
Although Mr. Byrne told me that his Sith Lord speech ranked among "the 10 proudest moments of my life," most people, including me, thought it was loony beyond belief. Roddy Boyd of The New York Post recalled hearing about it from someone on Wall Street. "When he described it, I thought he was embellishing," Mr. Boyd said. But when he listened to the replay, "my jaw dropped — you cannot make up what occurred on that phone call."In addition to his conspiracy-mongering, Mr. Byrne talked about Stinger missiles, Wayne and Garth, a mysterious Spanish phone message, stuttering and cocaine. ("I'm not a coke head," he said, unprompted.) . . . .
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Intimidation to Protect
The Times has a rather bizarre story on the SEC issuing subpoenas to folks who have written stories on a handful of stocks whose prices nose-dived as a result. It would seem that the SEC could be taking their lead from one of those disgruntled companies, Overstock, Inc., which we know is owned by the conspiratorial junk man, Patrick Byrne, who also fronts the neocon-funded divisive campaign to ram the 65% solution through every statehouse in the country. I suppose such sleaze in power could be an amusing diversion if it were not shaping national education policy and deciding which reporters will be dragged into the courts to uphold the 1st Amendment. Here is a clip from the Times: