Byrne Out At Overstock, Johnson Named Interim CEO

Patrick Byrne has resigned from his roles as CEO and member of the board of directors, and the company has appointed Jonathan Johnson interim CEO. The announcement was made by Allison Abraham, the chair of the company’s board of directors.

The company also said that Kamelia Aryafar has joined the board of directors in the wake of Byrne’s resignation.

Johnson has been an Overstock board member and serves as president of Medici Ventures, the company’s wholly owned blockchain subsidiary, both of which positions he will retain, Overstock stated. He also will continue to serve on the boards of Overstock’s blockchain-related Medici Ventures, and tZero operations as well as in his role as president of Medici Ventures.

In addition, Overstock is promoting Aryafar to evp of its retail business, overseeing the continued implementation of a data-driven and machine learning strategy across the customer, marketing and sourcing departments to advance personalized customer experience. She will continue to serve in her role as chief algorithms officer of Overstock’s retail business.

In a letter to shareholders, Byrne said certain personal matters that had become public knowledge “complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business…I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member, effective Thursday, August 22.”

The personal matter that recently came to light, in published accounts, was a past relationship Byrne had with convicted Russian spy Maria Butina. After the relationship came to light, Byrne, last week, penned a letter about his involvement with Butina and law enforcement investigating her activities. Investors responded to the letter with a sell-off of Overstock shares that dropped the stock price by more than a third.

“We respect and understand Patrick’s reasons for resigning and acknowledge his momentous achievement in taking Overstock from a startup twenty years ago to one of the nation’s leading online retailers and positioning it at the forefront of the blockchain revolution,” said Abraham. “We have full confidence in both Jonathan’s ability to lead the company, and Kamelia’s expertise and insights to help the board successfully lead Overstock into the coming months and years.”