Business

Erik Gibbs

Overstock founder to sell business, concentrate on crypto

It would appear that the formation of the tZero project by retail giant Overstock may not have been such a crazy move after all. The platform has had a difficult beginning, with costs surging to almost $170 million, but Overstock founder, CEO and majority shareholder Patrick Byrne has indicated that it’s time to give up the retail game and concentrate solely on cryptocurrencies.

Byrne made the announcement in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He indicated that the company is going to focus exclusively on tZero, which is “actively working to develop new technology that will help make markets more efficient, more transparent, and more liquid.”

The executive added that it isn’t “sustainable” to be “The guy who pedals along making $10 to $20 million a year.” He added that tZero has the potential to offer a number of multibillion-dollar operations under its umbrella.

This isn’t just a pipe dream, either. The sale is already in the works and the entire retail business—including Overstock.com, O.co and the company’s Worldstock program—are to be sold off by next February. Byrne didn’t name names, but there would be significant interest from a plethora of retailers, including Amazon and Walmart.

Overstock isn’t exactly hurting for cash. It sold 2.8 million shares last quarter, Overstock raised $94 million and raised an additional $130 million when it launched the initial coin offering (ICO) for its tZero cryptocurrency. However, the launch of tZero has caused a substantial decline in Overstock’s stock price. It has gone from a 2018 high of $87 to under $17 last Wednesday. When the news hit the airwaves that Overstock would drop retail for crypto, the company’s stock climbed 23.26% and, as of this writing, is just under $21.

The tZero platform is an alternative trading system (ATS) that is regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It matches buyers and sellers, instead of working through broker dealers, to securities and was launched to offer an alternative to NASDAQ that is transparent and immutable.

Overstock began accept cryptocurrency as form of payment since 2014, making it one of the first large retailers to do so. The shift from retail to full-time crypto is a huge step, and shows that—despite current downturns in crypto—digital currency still has a very bright future.

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