Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock, has published two intriguing essays on his experiences with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) covering his time in the early to mid-2000s trying to get Overstock listed on the NASDAQ and the last three years covering the time of his move into blockchain with tZERO. In them he accuses the agency of unfairly targeting tZERO and ignoring millions of documents they sent to help tZERO get clearance.
— Patrick Byrne (@PatriotByrne) November 10, 2019
ICO Market “Likely 95% Fraudulent”
Writing for the Deep Capture website under a biog that describes him as “a concerned citizen who has been hunting the oligarchy and Deep State since 2004”, Byrne makes a series of strong accusations in his posts, some of which he has made before, including:
- The IPO system is corrupt
- Camelback Research were involved in a scheme with hedge funds to short stocks and then write negative stories about them in the press
- External prince manipulation of the Overstock share price went from “notorious” to “historic” in 2005
- He knew the financial crash was coming four years before it hit
- The crypto ICO market was “likely 95% fraudulent”
Byrne, always an unconventional CEO, describes how in July 2017 he had a meeting with Warren Buffett who advised him to “solve someone else’s problem” rather than fighting off the advances of Amazon and Wal-Mart with Overstock. This convinced Byrne to go all in on blockchain technology, and in February of 2018 he had several buyers apparently lined up to bid for the company, until they received a letter from the SEC as part of a widespread investigation into blockchain firms and projects. This put a spanner in the works of the Overstock deal but, over the course of 2018, Byrne claims to have had constructive and even “superb” meetings with the SEC over tZERO, despite the project having to spend millions of dollars getting the right paperwork to obtain clearance. However, in December 2018, Overstock received a letter from the SEC that gave Byrne “the strong impression that they had yet to open any of the boxes we had sent them (containing around 2 million legal documents)”. tZERO finally launched in June, but Byrne’s relationship with the SEC only worsened when the agency launched an investigation into Overstock’s “international dealings” with GSR capital, who ended up hugely downgrading their planned investment in the company. As a result of the action, Suiters began backing out of potential Overstock deals.
Byrne Leaves Overstock
With his relationship with the SEC in tatters and negotiations to sell Overstock coming to a halt because of their investigations, Byrne could have picked a better time to tell “a small set of journalists” about his supposed work as an FBI informant due to his then-active affair with Maria Butina, a Russian informant he first met in July 2015, which he claims was the first step of the subversion of American politics by Russia (he claims in a separate post that he was offered $1 billion to “stay quiet” throughout the 2016 election, which he did not take). With all this going on, plus health problems that had plagued him for years, Byrne decided to step away from Overstock in August this year to avoid disrupting “possible strategic discussions” regarding the sale of the company. Although Byrne may be gone from the company, blockchain remains their focus, and tZERO has been gathering pace ever since its launch, most recently signing a deal to help tokenize a portion of luxury housing in the UK. With free time, a keyboard, and a grudge against American authorities, it’s pretty evident we haven’t heard the last of the man who once said, “How high can Bitcoin go? The real question is how low can the dollar go?”