Overstock.com just got a hefty chunk of change from one of the biggest names in finance, and CEO Patrick Byrne says much of it will fund the company’s blockchain work.
The company disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing this week that the holder of a warrant had exercised its right to buy $100 million worth of shares. Although the filing did not identify this investor, Byrne told CoinDesk it was the Quantum Fund, managed by billionaire George Soros.
Of the $100 million Overstock received, Byrne said he anticipates $20 million will fund DeSoto Inc., the blockchain property rights joint venture he is working on in partnership with economist Hernando DeSoto.
As for the other $80 million, Byrne said he intends to invest the funds across Overstock’s flagship e-commerce platform (which accepts bitcoin for payments) and the other blockchain ventures that are part of its Medici Ventures subsidiary.
Yet, Byrne indicated he sees those two businesses working more closely in the future.
“Maybe it’s about time we stop seeing Overstock as two separate businesses,” he said. “Our retail platform had 40 million unique people come to it last month. So as we’re developing these blockchain applications, these blockchain companies, the retail business is an extremely valuable retail business to have in terms of bringing awareness and traffic to the blockchain properties that we anticipate developing.”
Byrne continued, telling CoinDesk:
“By having the retail business involved, what we can really create is the wormhole between the two universes, the universe of conventional and the universe of crypto.”
Quantum Fund did not respond to requests for comment by press time, but the Soros-controlled vehicle disclosed its purchase of a warrant to buy Overstock shares in November.
Byrne mentioned tZERO, Overstock’s blockchain development platform for capital markets, as another area where some of the proceeds would be headed. But none of the Quantum investment will be used to purchase any of the crypto tokens issued in an initial coin offering (ICO) by tZERO in December.
Separately, however, Overstock itself is buying $30 million worth of tZERO tokens with other funds, Byrne told CoinDesk.
During the initial phase of its ongoing ICO, tZERO received $100 million in commitments from investors interested in purchasing the crypto tokens.
Generally speaking, Overstock will be hiring people “across Wall Street with expertise in risk management,” Byrne said.