Patrick Byrne: Why did you found Overstock.com?

Patrick Byrne: Interesting. Well there’s two ways to explain it, and the part that’s the most interesting is I knew a guy when I was in high school – a guy named Charlie, a good fellow, Chaluca – and whatever you wanted . . . He was part of sort of the Greek mob I would say that runs a lot of things in the D.C. area. And whatever you wanted, he’d say, “Yeah, yeah. I know a guy in a warehouse. I’ll get it for you real cheap. I know a guy. I’ve got a cousin in the factory,” or something like that. We all wondered if it was hot or something. Well it just turns out that Chaluca knew people, and he did know . . . And it turns out that at the fringes of retail, there’s this world of folks that folks like you and I normally never meet. They’re called “joppers”, and they tend to be “bada-bing, bada-boom, knows-a-guy-that-knows-a-guy” kind of fellows. And I learned about that world originally through him. And then as the idea for Overstock was let’s just . . . For the consumers who don’t have a friend like Charlie, we’ll be a company of Charlies. We’ll be out there wheeling and dealing trying to find these special opportunities, bringing them into a warehouse in Salt Lake, putting them up online. So we’re . . . we’re for the consumer who doesn’t have his own Charlie. They just need to know us. That was sort of . . . That was one way to explain it. I did find that interesting. I didn’t think I was . . . I thought I’d be doing it for about six months until I found someone to replace myself, but that . . . It’s like the God . . . Al Pacino in Godfather III. “Every time I start to get out they suck you back in!”

Recorded on: 10/29/07

 

The origins of overstock.com.

Why Henry David Thoreau was drawn to yoga

The famed author headed to the pond thanks to Indian philosophy.

Image: Public Domain / Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
  • The famed author was heavily influenced by Indian literature, informing his decision to self-exile on Walden Pond.
  • He was introduced to these texts by his good friend's father, William Emerson.
  • Yoga philosophy was in America a century before any physical practices were introduced.
Keep reading Show less

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less
Photo: Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
    • A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 80 percent of Americans don't exercise enough.
    • Small breaks from work add up, causing experts to recommend short doses of movement rather than waiting to do longer workouts.
    • Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
    Keep reading Show less