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Overstock will ditch its retail business to go all-in on blockchain

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Overstock is going all in on the blockchain.
Overstock is going all in on the blockchain.

Image: Getty Images/EyeEm

Overstock is getting out of ecommerce.

One of the internet’s earliest online retailers, Overstock, is preparing to sell off its entire ecommerce business in February according to its founder and CEO Patrick Byrne. 

Overstock’s future? Cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.

Speaking to the , Byrne detailed his Overstock sale plans and discussed the company’s $175 million investment so far into its subsidiary Medici Ventures, which backs blockchain startups.

Overstock was founded in 1999 and initially focused on selling surplus, returned, and liquidated merchandise of all types. As of today, the company’s ecommerce focus has shifted to home decor, bedding, kitchen appliances, and jewelry.

The company has been known for attention-bringing stunts like its short-lived 2011 rebranding of Overstock to ‘O.co’. In 2014, Overstock became the first major retail store to accept Bitcoin as payment for its merchandise. While the company admitted Bitcoin transactions largely dropped off after the initial announcement, that the ups-and-downs of the company’s stock have seemingly correlated with the rise and fall of the price of Bitcoin.

So far this year Overstock has lost $163 million. Its investment in Medici hasn’t paid off either, with the subsidiary losing $22 million last year and $39 million so far this year. Making matters worse, Medici’s most well-known investment, tZero, a trading system startup, still has yet to launch to the public.

Byrne doesn’t seem bothered by any of this. 

“I don’t care whether tZero is losing $2 million a month,” said the Overstock founder and CEO to the Journal. “We think we’ve got cold fusion on the blockchain side.”

By selling off the business that built Overstock and fully pivot to the blockchain, Byrne’s proving that this is no stunt.

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