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Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. Photo: Al Schaben / Getty Images

E-commerce veteran Overstock.com is planning to sell up to 500 million digital tokens via an initial coin offering that will launch next month, CEO Patrick Byrne announced today at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas.

Why it matters: This is intended to become the largest ICO of all time, topping the $257 million raised by FileCoin in August.

Background: Overstock.com might seem like an unlikely ICO issuer, but the company has been an early adopted of cryptocurrencies. It was one of the first companies to accept payment via Bitcoin, and has formed a subsidiary called tØ that is creating the first SEC-compliant exchange for companies to trade digital tokens. It's that tØ exchange, spurred by a July regulatory finding, that would be financed via the ICO sale.

Axios spoke with Byrne prior to his speech, and learned a bit more:

  • He acknowledges that it may not make sense for both Overstock.com and tØ to remain parts of the same company, given their very different businesses. If a split does come, he plans to continue running the crypto piece (although leaves open the possibility of overseeing both). Overstock.com currently has a market cap just south of $1 billion.
  • The Overstock.com ICO will utilize tØ, with Byrne comparing it to Jonas Salk injecting himself with the polio vaccine to prove safety.
  • He believes in a future whereby companies find it more efficient to raise capital via ICOs than by selling stock, and thinks many existing companies could issue ICOs to buy back shares.
  • Byrne says that at least half of the ICOs he's seen are specious, often just a one-page white paper hoping to attract unsophisticated investors.

Go deeper

20 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.