Overstock.com CEO and chairman Patrick Byrne has taken an indefinite medical leave of absence from the company.
Byrne has a long history of medical problems after a long bout with cancer nearly 30 years ago. Due to the cancer and related heart problems, Byrne says, he has undergone more than 106 surgeries over the last three decades. And in the last year, he has battled a recurrence of Hepatitis C, which he first contracted on a visit to China in the early ’80s. “I’ve been really gutting it out over the past few months,” he says.
His decision to take a leave of absence from Overstock—a cut-rate online retailer based in Salt Lake City, Utah—will be felt most among the worldwide community working to advance bitcoin and the bitcoin blockchain, the vast digital ledger that underpins the digital currency. Guided by Byrne, Overstock was the first major retailer to accept payments in bitcoin, and perhaps more importantly, he led the creation of an Overstock subsidiary called TØ.com, which uses the blockchain and related technologies to build services that can track the exchange of financial securities.
In discussing his leave, Byrne expresses little worry