Patrick M. Byrne has his fingers in a lot of pies. He's chairman, chief executive officer and president of He's a general partner in High Plains Investments LLC and a board member of White Mountains Insurance Group and Atlantic Aviation.

He knows nine languages, is a published writer and is a boxer with a black belt in tae kwon do.

And his company and its success in a time when other dot-coms have become dot-gones is a tribute in part to hard work and common sense., which completed its initial public offering last month, provides manufacturers with a place to liquidate excess inventory over the Web. Byrne has perfected the art of buying excess merchandise at low prices and selling it at steep discounts to hungry consumers. His Web site is one of the most heavily trafficked commercial sites on the Internet.

He admits to being eccentric, hands-on, results-driven and to having little use for pretention or bureaucracy, a man who prizes team work and eschews turf wars. Recently, he divided his employees into "pods" that each include workers from different areas of expertise.

His hands-on approach extends out of the business world and into his everyday life. Recently, for example, he rode his bike across the country to raise money and awareness for cancer research. He's known for his philanthropy, as well as his business acumen, which he started honing when he was only 13 and began dabbling in value investing. From there he moved to mowing lawns and paving driveways. He opened a successful Christmas tree business when he was just 16, then started picking up real estate at distressed-sale prices.