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.

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