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Overstock Reports Over $100k in Crypto Losses for Q1 2015

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on June 24, 2015 at 22:35 GMT
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UPDATE 25th June 0:00 UTC: Updated with comment from Overstock cryptocurrency group general manager Judd Bagley.


overstockUS retail giant Overstock lost $117,000 on its investments in cryptocurrencies during the first quarter of 2015, according to the company's latest quarterly earnings report.

Overstock listed its cryptocurrency holdings as valued at $233,000, down from $340,000 on 31st December.

Long one of the largest merchants in the digital currencies space, Overstock had previously indicated that it was holding as much as 10% of its proceeds from such sales in bitcoin.

The filing suggests Overstock is still holding the funds in bitcoin, as it noted subsequent increases in the value of bitcoin could be recognized in later filings. What remains unclear is whether the company is still actively adding to its holdings from bitcoin sales.

In its latest SEC filing, the company noted that it receives all bitcoin payments via a third party denominated in US dollars.

The company wrote:

"At present we do not accept bitcoin payments directly, but use a third party vendor to accept bitcoin payments on our behalf. That third party vendor then immediately converts the bitcoin payments into US dollars so that we receive payment for the product sold at the sales price in US dollars."

In addition to cryptocurrency, Overstock also holds nearly $10m in gold and silver as well as interest and equity in businesses that will help facilitate its plan to build a decentralized stock market.

Clarification given

Speaking to CoinDesk, Overstock cryptocurrency group general manager Judd Bagley indicated that the loss was primarily the result of declines in certain altcoin markets in which the company has invested.

"The swing in the value of our cryptocurrency holdings is attributable to the sale of some of our non-bitcoin cryptocurrencies, the use of some of our bitcoin to pay for services including our membership in the Chamber of Digital Commerce, and changes in the market," he said.

He went on to clarify that the company "holds more than just bitcoin", but did not clarify which digital currencies Overstock has invested in.

Bagley stated that, in its quarterly filing, the holdings are considered a part of the same asset class.

"We’ve invested in other cryptocurrencies over time, and for the purposes of the SEC filing, we lump them all together," he continued.

Risky business

Elsewhere, cryptocurrencies are listed as a potential legal risk for the company, with Overstock noting that penalties for non-compliance with local laws governing cryptocurrencies could "negatively impact" the business.

Overstock was also upfront about the risks it faces carrying out its decentralized stock market project, Medici, writing that it does not have significant internal experience with this type of project, and that it may be expensive or ultimately unsuccessful.

Such language, though, is used broadly and throughout the filing, with Overstock noting its attempts to brand the company as O.co overseas may also fail to gain traction.

Despite the risks, however, the filing suggests Overstock will continue to be long on its investment in bitcoin as a speculative asset.

"In the future, we may transact in cryptocurrency directly or increase our cryptocurrency holdings," the filing states. "This will subject us to additional exchange risk and other risks as described above, which may have an adverse effect on our results."

Stan Higgins contributed reporting.

O.co image via Shutterstock

MerchantsOverstockPatrick Byrne

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