Patrick Byrne was the CEO of Overstock.com, one of the earliest online retailers to accept bitcoin as payment. Overstock.com is the parent company of blockchain investment firm Medici Ventures and capital markets platform tZERO.
Byrne bought Deals.com in 1999 and rebranded the international retailer to Overstock.com. In its early years, Overstock.com gained a reputation for bargain prices and “steals,” which led to early success earning $25.5 million in year two and $80 million in year three. In 2002, Overstock.com went public and earned nearly $100 million in gross revenues.
In 2014, Overstock began offering their products in exchange for bitcoin. While missing their sales mark in the first few years, this exposed the retailer to a new customer base, 50% of bitcoin sales were completed by customers who had previously not shopped at Overstock.com. In 2014, Byrne launched Overstock.com’s subsidiary investment firm Medici Ventures. Byrne had become an outspoken advocate of bitcoin, even installing a Bitcoin ATM at Overstock’s headquarters in 2015. That year, Byrne directly invested $8 million in different blockchain projects.
Medici Ventures has become a notable venture firm in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries, having funded voting solution Voatz, asset manager Chainstone Labs, data authenticator Factom and banking platform Bankorus. Additionally, Byrne’s often promoted subsidiary, tZERO, aims to be a blockchain-based securities market that disrupts traditional Wall Street practices. As of February 2019, the platform had struggled in its initial phases regarding volume expectation and price of their initial coin offering (ICO) token, TZROP. The platform remains restricted to certain users and tradeable tokens.
In 2018, the state of Ohio announced it would accept bitcoin as payment for taxes, and in 2019, Byrne’s Overstock.com became one of the first major companies to pay its taxes in bitcoin. This act brought praise from Ohio state treasurer John Mandel, stating the company’s “embrace of blockchain technology was ahead of its time.”