(Bloomberg) –– Patrick Byrne, the flamboyant entrepreneur who has run Overstock.com for two decades, resigned from his role as chief executive officer after bewildering investors last week with claims about entanglements with the “Deep State.”
Byrne, whose departure as CEO and from the board takes effect Thursday, will be succeeded by director Jonathan Johnson on an interim basis. Johnson has been with the company for 17 years and has recently served as president of Overstock’s blockchain business, Medici Ventures.
“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,” Byrne wrote in a more than 1,600-word statement. He founded the company in 1999 and took it public three years later.
Byrne drew attention last week after releasing a statement claiming he was part of federal investigations related to the 2016 election. In the press release titled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State,” Byrne referred to federal investigators as “the Men in Black” in referencing investigations relating to political espionage and the rule of law. The stock fell 36% in the two days following Byrne’s disclosure.
Shares surged as much as 18% to $22.95 at 12:36 p.m. in New York on Thursday after being halted for the announcement.