Overstock shares pop after founder eyes blockchain

Overstock founder and CEO Patrick Byrne is betting big on blockchain—so big that he is planning to sell the retail arm of his company to focus solely on the new technology by early next year.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report the news, and while Byrne was timid on details of potential buyers or terms of the potential agreement—he did reveal the deal could be completed by February of next year

News of the report boosted Overstock shares more than 23 percent Friday.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
OSTK OVERSTOCK.COM INC. 17.32 -0.39 -2.20%

Byrne, who founded Overstock in 1999 to sell discounted goods like furniture and jewelry over the internet, has been an adamant believer of blockchain for years.

He told the Journal that he has been planning to sell his e-commerce business since 2017 to fully devote himself to some of his blockchain startups that he has been developing through his subsidiary called Medici Ventures.

Byrne said he has invested more than $175 million into Medici and despite the company losing more than $22 million in 2017, and more than $39 million in 2018, he believes the company and its technology, including its trading system tZero, is the future.

"I don't care whether tZero is losing $2 million a month," Byrne told the Journal. "We think we've got cold fusion on the blockchain side.”