Overstock’s highly-touted tZero project has been something of a money pit for the company, costing nearly $170 million in overall development costs with no live product yet available. Medici Ventures, Overstock’s blockchain investment arm, has acquired additional subsidiaries on the order of several more millions of dollars in an effort to expand its crypto portfolio.
The exploratory mission, combined with shaken confidence in the crypto market generally, has led to a murderous decline in Overstock’s share valuation — it saw a year-long high of $87 but at time of writing stands at around $20. For its part, Overstock did manage to realize some of the previous market gains by selling 2.8 million shares at over $33 last quarter, raising $94 million. Between that and the $130+ million raised in the tZero token sale, the overall situation has yet to present a serious problem for the company’s financials.
Overstock has long been one of the major retailers in support of cryptocurrencies, accepting Bitcoinearly on and then moving on to accept a wide variety of cryptos. The tZero project, or something like it, was almost an inevitability, with majority shareholder and CEO Patrick Byrne able to accurately be characterized as a corporate cryptonaught.
Now, according to statements given to the Wall Street Journal by the man himself, the company is moving to sell its retail business off and go all-in on tZero, which “is actively working to develop new technology that will help make markets more efficient, more transparent, and more liquid.”
Byrne told the WSJ that it “wasn’t sustainable” to be “the guy who pedals along making $10 to $20 million a year.” He believes that tZero potentially has several “multibillion dollar” properties within it.
The move to sell off the retail business, which includes O.co and its Worldstock program, is expected to be completed by February. Neither Byrne nor Overstock has publicly floated the names of any buyers or potential buyers, but there are certainly plenty of outfits which will be interested. An interesting scenario might be if Walmart, Amazon, or another company which does not yet accept cryptos were to acquire Overstock and then continue accepting cryptocurrencies, at least on Overstock.com.