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And now even a podcast?  I don’t want to say they’re oversaturating their market, but sheez, how’s a guy supposed to even keep up?  In other news: Woof.

“And it all starts when Patrick Byrne gets a phone call from the Easter Bunny.”

I ask you, with an opening like that, how could Mitchell’s former colleagues at Columbia deny him the Pulitzer?

The date, strangely never mentioned in Mitchell’s piece, was January 28, 2005, and the occasion was the fourth-quarter conference call for Overstock.Com’s 2004 fiscal year.  For that year, according to the SEC filings that would not be made for another seven weeks, Overstock lost $5 million, though it claimed positive cash flow from operations of $24 million.  The results were generally categorized as strong, and while the lack of true profit was disappointing, most institutions were still willing to give the Utah online retailer some slack.  Of course, the company also had its share of critics, as all public companies do.

But nobody, at least nobody not in on it, was expecting what was to follow.

Mitchell, at least for now, writes very credulously about what occurred.  CEO Byrne receives a call from an anonymous person calling himself the “Easter Bunny” and, unaccountably, does not immediately hang up.  To be sure, Mitchell’s account has Byrne sounding very skeptical.  “But the Easter Bunny persists”, Mitchell writes, even though the only thing allowing him to persist was the goodwill of the person taking the call.

Our leporid friend goes on to make some as-yet unrevealed predictions, so let me respond in kind with a couple of predictions of my own, namely that Mitchell will prove to know full well that this incident was not, in fact, where the story begins, nor was it the spontaneous event that he currently portrays it to be.

Of course, I’m cheating a little with those predictions, using a dastardly technique called “reading ahead”.  On the other hand, who would begin a trek into the jungle without at least some kind of idea where the destination lay?

But as bizarre as this incident may have been, it was nothing next to what would follow later that year.


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