Cointelegraph spoke to Judd Bagley, Overstock’s Director of Communications, about the company’s continuing support for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
Online retail giant Overstock.com has historically had a demonstrable interest in cryptocurrency, accepting Bitcoin for payments and extending special deals to crypto-using customers.
This has been largely due to CEO Patrick Byrne's passion for all things crypto, and his commitment to what he calls “the crypto revolution.” Byrne’s recent exit from the company has left doubts in the minds of some as to the company’s future as it relates to Bitcoin.
Business and philosophical reasons
Cointelegraph: Overstock seems to be one of the few large retailers that has long been an ally of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movement at large, to a degree not easily found elsewhere. Is this mostly due to Patrick Byrne's personal vision, or does it go beyond that?
Judd Bagley: Patrick Byrne's clearly at the foundation of Overstock.com's eager approach to crypto technology. It's rare that you find a single person with the educational, political, and economics background that Patrick has.
You put these things all together and you get a person uniquely qualified to not only understand the nature of this new technology, but also be in a position to put the power of a $2-billion company behind promoting it.
Our reasons for accepting Bitcoin as a payment method in 2014 were two-fold: business and philosophical. And I'd say that approach continues to drive what we're doing in the crypto space with t0.com today: we're doing this as both a good entrepreneurial business decision and because we're moving civilization forward a few steps.
Bleeding edge of progress
CT: How far has Byrne's passion for crypto sifted down through the corporate culture? Is it a shared interest across the whole company, or more "the boss's thing"?
JB: In our company, as with society as a whole, the number of people who really get the blockchain is pretty small. Most of those at Overstock.com who do get it, and express an interest in getting involved, seem to gravitate toward t0 and are now part of that corner of the organization.
So crypto itself hasn't really permeated the company much. But what it has done is underscore the reputation we want to foster of Overstock.com as a center of really interesting technological development. In this sense it's been great.
There's a thriving tech culture here in Salt Lake City, Utah, and plenty of competition for talent. Having the reputation of being on the bleeding edge of progress in this particular space has bolstered our reputation as an interesting place to work generally.
CT: So it's not something that most people have to deal with at all?
JB: No. We're a company of 2,000 people and crypto doesn't really affect the vast majority of those employees.
Although we are working on giving employees the option of receiving a portion of their paycheck in Bitcoin, and have a Bitcoin ATM at one of our buildings. But in a day to day workplace sense, I'd say it doesn't factor much into an average employee's day at all.
Overstock investing in crypto-innovators
CT: Some of the cryptocurrency community are openly worried that those days are over now that Byrne has stepped down. Is there any validity to this worry?
JB: Patrick left the organization with a strong sense of direction, plenty of momentum and a management team with a very clear sense of mandate. More importantly, Overstock.com has already invested over $50-million in t0.com and about $10-million in venture funding of other crypto-innovators.
We've placed our bets and it's inconceivable to me, as an insider, that anything could happen to divert us from the path Patrick left us on. Having said that, I understand why people might be concerned. But there's really no reason to worry.
CT: So it's fair to say that Overstock will continue to be an ally of crypto?
JB: No question. It's in our DNA.