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Byrne stirred controversy on Aug. 12 after releasing a statement concerning conversations with federal investigators in 2015, whom he refers to as “the Men in Black,” about the Clintons and Russian interference in the U.S. election.
This is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen in the stock market.— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) August 14, 2019
Shares of Overstock have crashed over 36% in two days in the wake of the CEO issuing a statement about "The Deep State" https://t.co/cyxxfkgchf pic.twitter.com/b1xHS5oFuU
Bryne claims to have offered federal law enforcement his theories on both the investigations after successfully putting all “the pieces together.”
The CEO specifically alleges that both investigations were “less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Clinton and Donald Trump.”
Bryne failed to provide any specifics on his bizarre remarks, concluding his statement with even more vague commentary.
“I will speak no more on the subject,” Byrne wrote. “Instead, having lived in places lacking Rule of Law and having witnessed the consequences of its absence, I plan on sitting back and watching the United States Department of Justice re-establish Rule of Law in our country.”
The unconventional statement was followed by a significant drop in the company’s value. Overstock.com’s shares crashed by 36% in the following days, according to Bloomberg, marking “the biggest two-day slump in more than 11 years.”
The “deep state” commentary appears to have wiped out a month’s worth of gains made by the company in early 2019.
Financial analyst Tom Forte says the timing of the statement has been incredibly negative for the company given that it recently returned to positive cash flow.
“What you have here is a highly controversial CEO and another example of something that’s controversial,” Forte said. “There are times like right now where that has a negative impact on the performance of the stock.”
In a statement to the company’s shareholders, Byrne detailed his decision to step down.
“In July I came forward to a small set of journalists regarding my involvement in certain government matters. Doing so was not my first choice, but I was reminded of the damage done to our nation for three years and felt my duty as a citizen precluded me from staying silent any longer,” Byrne said. “…Though patriotic Americans are writing me in support, my presence may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business.”
After Byrne announced his resignation, company stocks jumped 17 percent. Jonathan Johnson, a member of Overstock’s board, will replace Byrne as interim CEO.
This post has been updated.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.