Overstock CEO plans to sell retail business by February to focus on blockchain
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne told the Wall Street Journal he intends to finalize the sale of his company's retail business by February, transitioning to an all-out focus on blockchain ventures. The company's stock jumped as much as 26 percent within the same day of the announcement.
Beginning as an e-retailer for surplus and liquidated goods, Overstock.com currently acts as an e-commerce platform selling closeout and new merchandise in categories like jewelry, decor, apparel, accessories and furniture. Some of the brands featured on the site include Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Rayban, Gucci and Casio.
Following the anticipated sale, the company is set to pivot its funds toward developing tZero, Byrne's stockmarket-esque trade platform with the tracking security of bitcoin. While tZero has been in the works since 2015, it has yet to launch publicly and has cost the company millions in the meantime, according to WSJ.
On top of tZero, Byrne also has future plans to evolve Medici Ventures Inc., Overstock's fully owned subsidiary housing multiple blockchain startups. To date, Overstock has already invested $175 million into the crypto-centric company, which has incubated everything from a blockchain-based system for developing property rights in Rwanda to an app made to allow U.S. soldiers to cast their election votes from abroad.
Overstock has lost a total $163.7 million as of September, and the company's stock has fallen by 66 percent this year. However, Overstock's CEO remains confident in the future of cryptocurrency.
“I don’t care whether tZero is losing $2 million a month,” Byrne told WSJ. “We think we’ve got cold fusion on the blockchain side.”
The sticking power of cryptocurrencies continues to be highly contested by economists and stock market power players alike, with economic experts like Nouriel Roubini and Yves Mersch comparing digital assets like bitcoin to Tulip mania.
Launched in 1999, Byrne has reportedly been planning to sell Overstock's retail business since at least 2017.
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