Patrick Byrne Mulls Overstock Sale to Fund New Blockchain Venture

Sujha Sundararajan
Dec 13, 2017 at 16:00 UTC
Updated Dec 13, 2017 at 16:04 UTC
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Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne has partnered with a well-known economist on a new blockchain land registry venture – and he may wind up selling the e-commerce giant in order to fund it.

The joint venture between Overstock subsidiary Medici Ventures and Hernando de Soto, named De Soto, Inc., will focus on creating a system for local property records, which will leverage the tech as a way to transfer rights while also incorporating mobile tech and social media elements.

Byrne told the Financial Times that the plan is to launch a pilot system in early 2018, adding that he feels he has “a great moral obligation to refocus my life around this.”

To that end, Byrne indicated that one funding option would be to sell Overstock, either in segments or in its entirety, and use the money as capital for the new venture.

“One of the possibilities is I sell the business and we have all the capital we need,” he said.

According to the FT, advisory firm Guggenheim Partners has been hired to help explore potential options for the sale.

One of the first major online retailers to start accepting bitcoin payments for products, Overstock has since been a notable mover in the blockchain space. The firm began moving several years ago to build its blockchain-powered securities exchange, which it used last year in part to raise $30 million in new funding.

In statements, de Soto positioned the technology behind the new venture as a means to help alleviate poverty. As reported last year, De Soto is also involved in a land registry project involving BitFury and the Georgian government.

“Billions of people have resources that cannot easily be transformed into productive capital. Blockchain is a powerful tool to solve these structural issues, which are some of the principal causes of poverty and conflict,” de Soto said of the new venture.

Patrick Byrne image via CoinDesk archives