Patrick Byrne, CEO of online retailer Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OTSK) who stirred controversy recently after commenting on his involvement in an inquiry into the presidential election, stepped down on Thursday. The company’s stock gained rose sharply at the Nasdaq stock exchange soon after the report appeared.
In a letter sent to shareholders, Byrne said he is “far too controversial to serve as CEO”. The stock has been on a losing streak since Mid-August after Byrne said he was involved in the federal government’s “deep state” investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“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,” read the statement.
It was under Byrne that Overstock emerged as a leading e-commerce platform specialized in home goods and furniture, around two decades ago.
“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 further stated in the letter.
Meanwhile, the company said it has appointed Jonathan Johnson, head of its blockchain subsidiary Medici Ventures, as interim CEO. Johnson, who serves on the board of directors, has been with Overstock for 17 years. Also, chief algorithms officer Kamelia Aryafar has been appointed as a member of the board in the wake of Byrne’s resignation. Both Johnson and Aryafar will continue in their current positions.
Byrne had been in trouble after issuing the controversial statement to reporters earlier this month. Since then, the company’s stock has fallen about 30%.