Just as Overstock’s subsidiary tZERO announced that it is opening a global $250 million initial coin offering (ICO) to accredited investors, the retail giant’s CEO had a word of caution to share with the investor community.
CEO Patrick Byrne, under whose leadership Overstock became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin as a mode of payment in January 2014, does not seem happy with many of the latecomers in the exponentially rising cryptocurrency market. He has urged investors to watch out for alarming signs while deciding where to put their money.
“If they don’t already have a bunch of blockchain developers and if they can’t tell you what ERC-20 is then they’re conmen,” Byrne told the New York Post in a telephone interview this week, warning about ICOs.
For the uninitiated, ERC happens to be the same standard that bitcoin-rival Ethereum relies on for its tokens.
Meanwhile, speaking of microcap companies such as Long Island Iced Tea Corporation, Byrne said, “They’re just trying to get some sort of pump for their stock.”
On a related note, Fox Business reported that Byrne is also contemplating selling his retail empire to switch all his attention to cryptocurrencies and the technology that makes them possible; the blockchain.
During his conversation with the channel, the Overstock chief executive acknowledged that the company had already initiated a process, which is currently being handled by Guggenheim. He, however, was quick to point out that these are all initial talks and the company was yet to make a decision.
Note that Byrne’s decision to start accepting bitcoin payments in 2014 did not go down well with many analysts, as well as stakeholders in the company. Despite that, the CEO stood his ground and eventually had his earlier stand validated by the rapidly increasing popularity and the market price of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin.
“I’m tired of competing with people who lose fortunes,” he told Fox Business, adding, “So, we’ll sell the retail business to a brick and mortar and we’ll carry on with blockchain.
tZERO is touted as the first-ever blockchain-powered ICO trading platform in the world which is compliant with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Overstock first announced its decision to launch tZERO in September 2017. The company’s stocks reached new highs shortly after the announcement as investors saw it as the ideal way to tap into the rising popularity (and dollar valuation) of blockchain technology.
In fact, during November 2016 BTCManager identified Overstock as an interesting way to gain exposure to the emergence of blockchain technology in the stock markets.
Earlier in December 2017, multinational banking giant Morgan Stanley disclosed an 11.5 percent stake in Overstock, becoming the single largest stakeholder after High Plains Investments.
Byrne is a vocal advocate of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology in general. He says bitcoin, which happens to be the most popular cryptocurrency in the world today, is “the most important change in 6,000 civilizations of technology.”