| Overstock CEO |
Overstock.com (OSTK) CEO Patrick Byrne thinks he's building a much better business than that of e-commerce rival Amazon.com (AMZN) -- and his company should be valued with that in mind. But many investors have their doubts, as
detailed here . As recently as last month, 44% of the company's float was being shorted while some of the company's biggest investors have recently sold part of their stakes. TheStreet.com's Troy Wolverton recently spoke with Byrne about investors' concerns and his company's direction. Q: Why'd you buy 620,000 shares last month? I bought the stock because I think it is and thought it was very attractive. I have big hopes for this company. Q: The rumor on Wall Street is that you bought the shares in an effort to squeeze short-sellers. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the dynamics about the shorts. We're really simple guys. We're value guys. I focus on buying toasters and selling toasters. If we do that, the stock will take care of itself. People are trying to read far more Machiavellian intentions into this. I was not trying to squeeze the shorts. I don't lose sleep over whether people are shorting the stock. It seemed like a good time to buy the stock. I am aware of how short some people have gotten. I can't say they are wrong. They've got their opportunity. Reality is going tell us who's right and who's wrong. Q: Some of your biggest investors have been selling shares, including Ashford Capital Management, Krevlin Advisors and Tiger Technology Management. Why shouldn't other investors see that as a warning sign? It doesn't surprise me. I got email from two of them saying that they were going to take some profits. Some of those guys were coming in at $5 or $6. Two of the firms you mentioned were lightening their positions, but were not getting out of it.
You do like to have smart owners. But it doesn't bother me if they sell it, and it doesn't make me happy if they keep it. I'm working for shareholders as a group. Q: The skeptics out there say that your business model is broken. What's wrong with that picture? Ask the same investors what they think of Amazon. When they were the same size we are, they lost $1 billion that year. If at each stage of the game we're making more money than Amazon, I think we'll
ultimately have a more valuable franchise than Amazon. Q: So what happened to your company last year? Your revenue jumped, but so did your losses. I fly seaplanes, flying boats. You've got to get them up on the step. You've got to gun it to get enough power to get up on the wave.