Online retailer Overstock is preparing to split off its blockchain trading subsidiary Medici, after revealing that it spent $8 million on the business this year, pushing the company into the red for the first time in nine successive quarters.
The latest batch of figures comes as the firm steps up its effort to use the core blockchain technology to create a cryptosecurity trading system.
The company says it spent $3.2 million on its medici unit - which houses Overstock.com's TØ.com trading technology - in the third quarter. The company also committed to a $30 million outlay on brokerage unit SpeedRoute, which routes 2.5% of equity trades on Wall Street and provides a node onto the US National Market System and in June began scouting institutional investor interest in its first digitial bond issues. This follows the acquisition earlier this year of of a 25% stake in alternative trading system (ATS) PRO Securities.
Overstock chief Patrick Byrne says the firm has managed to file for five key provisional patents on fundamental processes for crypto-capital formation and has been holding meetings with executives "at the highest levels of Wall Street who understand the enormous potential of this technology, and who do not wish to be left at the station".
Despite the bullish sentiment, the costs incurred in breaking into the cryptotrading arena have proved a drag on earnings, as the company reported a $2.1 million loss for the quarter.
"The direct costs of our Medici efforts this year will be in the neighborhood of $8 million (and when you add shared overhead, services provided by dual-tasked employees, and load factor, the real cost this year is significantly greater)," says Byrne. "For obvious reasons I do not believe that this enterprise can be co-managed with our online retailing business, and in that regard am aggressively exploring alternatives with an eye to maximising shareholder value."