Overstock Will Champion Crypto Despite Cheerleader Byrne’s Exit

Samantha Chang @Samantha_Chang
August 25, 2019 00:05 UTC

By CCN Markets: Online retail giant Overstock remains committed to its crypto and blockchain ventures despite the shocking resignation of CEO Patrick Byrne, a longtime bitcoin bull.

Overstock’s interim CEO Jonathan Johnson says the company will “absolutely” continue to focus on its fledgling blockchain business.

Bitcoin fan Patrick Byrne was a blockchain bull

Johnson made the assertions to Yahoo Finance just hours after Bryne resigned amid backlash over his involvement in several FBI investigations concerning Russian femme fatale Maria Butina.

Within the crypto industry, Byrne was known for his devotion to crypto and blockchain.

As CCN reported, Byrne gushed that the blockchain revolution is “bigger than the Internet revolution” in terms of how it’s going to transform society.

Byrne has been pivoting from retail to blockchain since 2014. To this end, Overstock has invested in 19 blockchain companies.

Interim CEO is president of Overstock’s blockchain unit

Jonathan Johnson, who has worked at Overstock since 2002, was its president from 2008 until 2013.

Johnson is currently president of Overstock’s blockchain unit, Medici Ventures. Accordingly, he underscored that nothing will dilute Overstock’s commitment to crypto and blockchain.

“Our team at Medici Ventures, which is the blockchain-focused business, is still working hard,” Johnson said. “And those different companies in the Medici family are growing at a nice rate.”

As CCN reported in October 2018, Medici Ventures invested $6 million in Minds, an open-source blockchain-based social network.

Minds is a decentralized alternative to Facebook, Twitter, and the Google-owned YouTube that promises strict user privacy and no censorship.

Overstock was first major e-commerce site to accept bitcoin

Overstock has been a trailblazer in its support of cryptocurrencies and blockchain — thanks in large part to its bitcoin bull former CEO Patrick Byrne.

In 2014, Overstock became the first major e-commerce site to accept bitcoin payments.

In January 2019, Overstock became the first major US company to announce plans to pay part of its 2019 Ohio state business taxes in bitcoin.

At one point, one of Overstock’s blockchain subsidiaries — tZero — was worth more than the entire company, after Chinese private equity firm GSR Capital invested $270 million to buy a 15% stake in the security token exchange operator at a $1.5 billion valuation.

Overstock’s blockchain investments recently comprised a whopping 60% of the firm’s total value.

However, interim CEO Jonathan Johnson insists that Overstock’s core retail business is not subordinate to its blockchain and crypto ventures.

“One side of the house isn’t going to get any more love than the other,” Johnson says. “I love both the retail business and the blockchain business.”

Last modified: August 26, 2019 11:34 UTC