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Re: Some Thoughts On Byrne Response

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By Hannibal100
August 30, 2005

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[For more thoughts by Overstock.com's CEO Dr. Patrick Byrne, read his responses to a recent Fool article, located here.]

Hello To Supporters and Detractors,

This is Patrick. I have been a Fool for a long time, and while I normally check in periodically to see what people are saying about OSTK (and myself, I confess), this is the first time I ever posted. Obviously, for regulatory reasons I cannot disclose things here, but I don't see any reason I cannot post a few comments.

First, no one should worry about missing elements in my 12 replies. Bill Mann graciously pointed out to me that what I first sent back to The Fool (about 15 hours after Seth wrote his piece) was rather academic: it built its points logically, but I "buried the lead." Bill did a nice cut-and-paste job and sent it back to me: 95% of my original material was there, just arranged differently. I gave it another editing or two of my own, and then authorized him to publish. So no need to think The Fool was not playing fair.

Second: thanks to those who have stood up for and defended me. Don't worry, these other guys don't get me down. And you should not let them get you down, either, or react to their negativity. One of the differences between The Fool and other boards is that the conversation here is well-informed and reasonable. In fact, I respect my detractors on this board. I believe that even the detractors here (as opposed to Yahoo) are well-intentioned, and are truly just calling it as they see it (though of late, there do seem to be someone with an agenda, eh?) When I see the conversation get heated on either side I just want to step in and yell, "HEY, chill out, who knows who is right about the future? I sure don't."

Third, of course I can COMPLETELY understand why some would look at my behavior and think it whacko: it is not as though the possibility never occurs to me before I do something weird. It's not like I don't agonize over it, and try to talk myself out of it. I often ask myself, "Who do you think you are, deliberately insulting Wall Street and the way they do business?" Just imagine Tom Cruise in the opening of Jerry McGuire, trying to decide whether to keep doing things the way everybody else does them, or to just hang it all out there on some principle, knowing he is going to get his butt kicked for it. That's about where I have been, over and over, these past few years. I really don't like insulting Wall Street as a group: I know many good people there, who do the right thing day after day. And even the ones who don't, I do not mean to insult: that is, it is not like I get pleasure out of it. I just have to stand up to them and the things I see them doing, not necessarily with OSTK, but even to other companies. I am not wired in a way that would let me look myself in the mirror in the morning, if I know what I know, and just ignored it.

My hope is that, more than anyone else, folks at The Fool will get it. You guys come to Fooldom because you know something stinks on Wall Street, don't you? I always figured that if there was a place I might find some folks who were willing to question convention and the status quo, this was the place.

Lastly, let me make a point using the example of the recent Webcast that got so much attention. It is available on our site, in the Investor Relations section. Yes, I may have rambled or sounded tired (I had flown to New York and got in during the wee hours of the morning). The transcript is imperfect. But there was a lot of information to impart, and upon review, I believe I did so pretty directly, albeit with some backtracking and digressions (YOU try explaining that whole thing to someone from scratch, and you'll see what I mean). So if you get a chance, read it, watch the slides, and THEN read what the Wall Street crowd says (e.g., Jeff Matthews, Roddy Boyd). People who take the time to do so tell me they are astounded by the level of deception about it that exists. So I urge you, when possible, not to trust what any reporter says I say, when it is possible just to read it yourself. Often, it is.

I understand why so many corporate types just take to issuing generic pap statements: it is because they want to give nothing to the Jeff Matthews or Roddy Boyds of the world to misconstrue. I choose not to play things that way, because I choose not to make myself a victim of other people, and nothing they say or write can hurt me. "The rhinoceros has no place to lodge a horn, nor the tiger to lodge a claw." I'd rather be forthright and have a lot of journalists dump on me than cower, worrying about what a bunch of strangers think of me. I know who I am.

So please, continue with the civility on this board, which makes it so much better than anywhere else. That piece that Nautical fellow wrote is a good example. Am I too optimistic, as he says? I don't know. I generally pepper my conference calls with, "Who knows how this is going to work out, but you know everything I know" kinds of comments (however, you'd have to read the transcripts and not the news reports to know that). In any case, he showed more insight than most Wall Street stuff for which people pay big money. Of course, I am not commenting on his conclusions or his numbers, but yes, he DID get right the basic game plan. It is nice (and a bit odd) to see your moves studied like that, and figured out: it is no shock to see it happen here, and not on Wall Street.

Best of luck to all us Fools,

Patrick


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