Overstock CEO resigns after ‘deep state’ comments

Overstock announced today that CEO Patrick Byrne has resigned from his role as chief executive and board member. Another board member, Jonathan Johnson, will be taking over as Overstock’s interim CEO.

This follows the company’s eyebrow-raising press release earlier this month titled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,” in which Byrne said he was confirming reports by journalist Sara Carter.

“Starting in 2015 I (operating under the belief that I was helping legitimate law enforcement efforts) assisted in what are now known as the ‘Clinton Investigation’ and the ‘Russian Investigation’ (in fact, I am the notorious ‘missing Chapter 1’ of the Russian investigation),” he wrote, going on to say that this was “the third time in my life I helped the Men in Black.”

Byrne and his attorney subsequently said that these comments were tied to his “romantic” relationship with Maria Butina, and that he wanted to shed light on the way federal law enforcement investigated her. Butina has been accused of working as a Russian agent and is currently in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Since then, the publicly traded e-commerce company has seen its stock price tumble.

Today’s announcement also takes the form of a letter from Byrne, in which he said he “came forward in as carefully and well-managed fashion” as he could, but that it still had a detrimental effect on the company.

“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,” Byrne said. “Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member, effective Thursday August 22.”

Byrne’s letter ends on an optimistic note about Overstock’s future, pointing to both its retail business and “blockchain assets that seem poised to revolutionize capital markets, finance, and governance for the poor.”

As of 12:51pm Eastern, Overstock shares are up 8.5% since the start of trading.