Patrick Byrne, CEO and founder of Overstock.com, has resigned following information that his romance with a Russian agent affected the company’s profit center, Politico reported on Thursday (Aug. 22).
Byrne was also found to have made dubious comments regarding the “Deep State,” which reportedly set the eCommerce firm spiraling.
“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,” Byrne said in a statement to Politico.
Overstock shares took a dive in the wake of Byrne’s comments, but have since recovered on news that the CEO will step down.
Employee and board member Jonathan Johnson will take over as interim CEO.
Byrne said in a letter to shareholders that his continued presence at Overstock’s helm “may affect and complicate all manners of business relationships.”
In an Aug. 12 press release entitled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,” Byrne confirmed media reports that he engaged in a three-year relationship with Maria Butina, who is now serving an 18-month prison sentence for infiltrating conservative political circles on the Russian government’s behalf. Byrne’s relationship with Butina lasted from 2015 to 2018.
In June, Byrne was ready to welcome Facebook’s entry into the cryptocurrency market. At the Fortune Brainstorm Finance conference in Montauk, New York, he said the social media giant’s launch of its own digital currency validates the space, and that Overstock would be open to partnering with Facebook on the project.
Overstock has spent $150 million on its blockchain business, tZero; the company owns 82 percent of the exchange. Byrne predicted that security tokens will reduce friction in capital markets while also improving price discovery.