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 M. Byrne, CEO, launched Overstock.com in 1999 with revenues of $1.8 million. In 2013 Overstock.com had revenues of $1.3 billion and net income of $88.5 million. Forbes magazine named Overstock.com the No. 9 Best Company to Work for in the Country for 2010, and Byrne the CEO with the highest employee approval rating (92%). Byrne received the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

In 2001, Byrne began Worldstock Fair Trade, an Overstock.com division selling handcrafted products from artisans in developing nations. The department distinguishes itself by returning 60-70% of the sale price to artisans (over $100 million has been paid to Worldstock’s artisan suppliers). In addition, all Worldstock net profits are donated to fund philanthropic projects in several countries. Worldstock and Byrne have funded the building of 26 self-sustaining schools internationally that currently educate thousands of students.

A “classical liberal,” Byrne believes that our nation’s success depends on a sound educational system and a healthy capital market. Since Milton Friedman’s passing in 2006, Byrne has served as chairman of The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an organization leading the national debate for school vouchers.

Towards the goal of clean capital markets, in 2004 Byrne (as a citizen-journalist) began a vigorous campaign against abusive Wall Street practices, focusing on regulatory capture, hedge fund "expert network" (insider trading) schemes, settlement system failures, systemic risk, and the possibility of economic warfare against the US by Organized Crime and foreign governments. His stance quickly caught the attention of Wall Street analysts and reporters and became a point of high controversy and ridicule until the economic crash of 2008, occasioned by the very things Byrne had warned of. Byrne's website DeepCapture.com has received much recognition, such as Weblogs Award "Best Business Blog" (2008), Business Pundit's "Best Business Investigative Journalism" (2009), and Xmark's "Top Site on Corruption in the USA" (2010).

Before founding Overstock.com and serving as chairman, CEO, and president, Byrne held the same three positions at Centricut, LLC, a manufacturer of consumables for industrial plasma torches, and held the same three positions at Fechheimer Brothers, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, manufacturing police, firefighter and military uniforms.

Byrne 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 is a frequent guest lecturer discussing Internet commerce, capital markets, Wall Street practices, education, leadership and ethics.
 

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.