Mr. Byrne, its chief executive officer, expects the company to be profitable by January when the company's sales will be enough to offset the cost of running and marketing the business.
Nonetheless, Mr. Byrne, who is a muscular 6-foot-5, has a pugilist's profile -- his nose was broken during a bout.
Mr. Byrne routinely scours F----dcompany.com, a Web site that keeps track of dot-com deaths. He recently posted an appeal there for failing companies to contact him. His user name on the site is Hannibal, after both the Carthaginian general and Hannibal Lecter, the infamous cannibal in Thomas Harris's novels.
Overstock.com Feeds on Assets Of Distressed Web 'E-Tailers'
November 14, 2000
By NICK WINGFIELD -- Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mr. Byrne learned some of his first business lessons as a teenager from value investor Warren Buffett. Mr. Byrne knew the legendary investor through his father, John Byrne, who once ran Geico Corp., an insurer now owned by Mr. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Corp. Among the principles Mr. Buffett imparted to the younger Mr. Byrne: The essence of value investing is trying to buy dollar bills for 30 cents. Mr. Byrne took that advice to heart, applying it to a string of deals. In the mid-1990s, he bought an old shoe factory in downtown Manchester, N.H., that had been converted to office space. The building's previous owners had stopped making payments on the mortgage on the property, and Mr. Byrne was able to pick it up for $3.5 million. Earlier this year, he sold it for $10 million. With one of his brothers, Mr. Byrne acquired the ailing Inn at Jackson Hole, in Wyoming, in 1987. He also has acquired distressed strip malls and apartment buildings across the West. Then there's the Grease Monkey oil-change outlet in Florida Mr. Byrne bought from an airline pilot who needed money to settle a divorce. "I realized in the last couple of months that there's a certain theme to my life -- bottom-feeding," Mr. Byrne says.