The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

Dr. Patrick Byrne

Board Chairman

Patrick Michael Byrne is chairman and CEO of Overstock.com, Inc., a Utah-based internet retailer that has been publicly traded since 2002. Under Patrick’s leadership the company’s annual revenue has grown from $1.8 million in 1999 to over $800 million in 2009.

Patrick received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Asian studies from Dartmouth College, a master’s in philosophy from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, and a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University. He has taught at the university level and frequently guest-lectures on business, the Internet, leadership and ethics.

Before founding Overstock.com, Patrick served as chairman, president and CEO of Centricut, LLC, a manufacturer of industrial torch consumables, then held the same three positions at Fechheimer Brothers, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company that manufactures police, firefighter and military uniforms.

In 2001, Patrick began Worldstock.com, Overstock.com’s socially responsible store for products handcrafted by artisans from developing nations and rural areas of the USA. To date, more than $50 million has been returned to Worldstock’s artisan suppliers.

A self-described “classical liberal,” Patrick believes that our nation’s future depends primarily on a sound educational system and a healthy capital market. Towards those ends, Patrick serves as chairman of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, supporting legislative reform to bring educational choice to parents. Patrick has also founded 19 schools internationally that currently educate more than 6,000 combined students.

In 2005, Patrick began a vigorous campaign against corruption in our capital markets through securities manipulation. His stance quickly caught the attention of Wall Street analysts and reporters and remains a point of high controversy today. For more information, visit Patrick’s business blog www.deepcapture.com.

Patrick has a black belt in tae kwon do and once pursued a career in boxing. After surviving cancer, he cycled across the country four times. His last ride, in the summer of 2000, helped raise awareness and record-breaking funds for cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Patrick M. Byrne's Endeavors on Behalf of Education

Academic & Professional

  • 1985, BA from Dartmouth College in philosophy and Asian studies.
  • 1989, Masters in Philosophy from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar.
  • 1994, Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University.
  • 1999, Visiting Professor, Dartmouth 1999. Led Dartmouth College students to Beijing, China and taught a course on the country’s socio-economic history.
  • Frequently guest lectures at colleges and universities throughout the country on topics ranging from stock market manipulation to ethics in business.
  • Chairman & CEO of Overstock.com, and Worldstock, a fair trade division of Overstock selling handmade products from thousands of artisans globally.

Philanthropy

  • Founded 19 schools internationally since 2005, all named in honor of his mother, Dorothy Byrne. Funding has reached countries including Afghanistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Malawi, Sudan, Ghana, and Liberia. Since inception in 2005, more than 7,000 boys and girls have been educated through these schools.
  • Children First Utah – a private voucher program for low-income Utah students.

Activist for School Choice and Education Reform

  • 2002-present, Chairman, Board of Directors, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
  • 2007, Primary sponsor of Utah’s Referendum One, an effort to enact a universal school voucher program in Utah. Personally campaigned for the referendum and participated in numerous debates on the controversial issue.
  • 2005-2007, Founded First Class Education, a 501(c)(4) dedicated to instituting the 65 Percent Solution, an education reform initiative to require all 50 states to spend 65 percent of every education dollar on classroom instruction. Launched a national campaign for the 65 Percent Solution in 2005. As of July 2008, Kansas, Texas, and Georgia implemented variations of the 65 Percent Solution. Legislation is pending in South Carolina, South Dakota, and Vermont.