…littered with dead rats, mosquitoes and other insects, and that workers – mostly Hispanic women who were paid $5.30 an hour and had no health insurance – had to bring their own toilet paper to work.
That was the situation at a plant run (the only non-union one in town) by the Fechheimer Brothers in San Antonio, Texas. The CEO of Fechheimer was Patrick Byrne. Byrne is now the CEO of Overstock.com, with some interesting, um, quirks:
Byrne does not appear to take Overstock’s customer service problems seriously, downplaying the influx of complaints as minor issues here and small glitches there. “My bad” was his response to a horrible third quarter performance.
It’s this attitude and Byrne’s bizarre demeanor that have some financial analysts describing the CEO as a freak show.
On August 11, for example, Byrne hosted a teleconference with analysts to attack a group of people that he alleged were short selling Overstock’s stock and causing damage “in the high hundreds of millions of dollars.” To describe the call as odd would not do it justice. The far-ranging conference had Byrne discuss everything from his techniques for taping calls with reporters to whether or not he had done cocaine. Somehow, this all had to do with the conspiracy to destroy Overstock.
“It was the most bizarre hour and change I have ever witnessed on the Street,” said Jeff Mathews, a hedge fund manager and close Overstock watcher, during a TV appearance.
But then again, what do you expect from an honorable mention in CBS MarketWatch’s 2005 survey of the Worst CEO’s.
Anyway, the point? Mr. Byrne is an important backer of First Class Education, the creators of the “65 Percent Solution” that Ken Blackwell is pushing for Ohio’s schools. You know, the one that former US Secretary of Education (and conservative) Rod Paige called “a gimmick” and “one of the worst ideas in education.” – originally posted at Peoplehavethepower.org