Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne sat down with Business Insider’s Sara Silverstein to discuss his longstanding belief in cryptos, a revolutionary cryptocurrency called Ravencoin, and his philosophy on life. Following is a transcript of the video.
Sara Silverstein:So Overstock.com has been accepting bitcoin for as long as I can remember anyone has.
Patrick Byrne:We were the first. We were the first – there was a – the largest company then accepting bitcoin was an $US800,000 a year restaurant diner in western Australia. We stepped up and started taking it – we were $US1.4 billion. So we often – I like to think that we saved that community about five years in their adoption cycle.
Silverstein:And how much of bitcoin are you transferring to cash right now?
Byrne:Now we only transfer 50% and the rest we keep in bitcoin. And then periodically, we do – we have cashed in bitcoin and made a few million dollars along the way or five million dollars somewhere like that. But generally, as we go along, we do 50% retain bitcoin 50% USD.
Silverstein:And where do you think the bitcoin price should be?
Byrne:No idea. No idea.Wherever millions of people through their trading say it should be. I can’t read their – there’s no way anyway –
Silverstein:Yeah, and are you interested in everything cryptocurrency? Or are you really interested in the blockchain? Where do you separate the two?
Byrne:Well I’m not really interested in cryptocurrencies per se. Although in general, I guess there’s nothing wrong with me saying there is an open-source project of which I’m really letting something big out of the bag here. I’ll tell you. But there’s an open-sourceproject called Ravencoin, which Overstock has put millions of dollars into teams. We have people contributing to this open-source project. We think this coin actually has quite a future. It’s about – it’s bitcoin, but a thousand times more energy efficient. And there’s other real interesting virtues to it – so Ravencoin. But other than that, I stay out of the cryptocurrency game. I’m building the – we’re focusing on applications of this technology and not just betting on coins themselves.
Silverstein:And is that the primary purpose of Ravencoin is to be a more energy efficient version of some of these other cryptocurrencies?
Byrne:That’s – I’d say that’s the first feature it brings to the world. What I hear – from the open-source community and on the message boards – I know what they are working on and it seems – it’s really quite a – I think it has – it was launched January 3 and it’s as this open-source project. And I think it has more – last I heard – the number of miners who are now working on it – or it has spread faster than any number of miners of any coin introduced. It’s really quite a phenomenon this Ravencoin. So – and what’s nice it’s democratized. Yeah, it – what happens is, you know, all these coins like bitcoin and such are built on – there’s a processor that’s solving mathematical problems. And it’s possible to build chips that specialize in just that problem. And so you really can’t – with your home computer, you’re not going to mine any bitcoin anymore unless you have this dedicated ASIC chip. Well, Ravencoin was designed, so you can’t do that – it’s ASIC resistant. And that’s because the problem that you solve keeps flipping randomly among a bunch of class of problems. Anyway, you can’t solve it efficiently with an ASIC’s chip, which means it redemocratizes mining. Anyone can download this software, and you don’t have an advantage by having this big mining warehouse in China.
Silverstein:And what’s your life philosophy? I know you’ve ridden your bike across country five times?
Byrne:Don’t remind me –
Silverstein: I know, just exaggerating –
Silverstein:And you obviously run your company different than a lot of people run their companies.
Byrne:Is it that obvious?
Silverstein:Yeah, just a little bit.What would you say your philosophy is? What keeps you going? What keeps you creative?
Byrne:Really?No one has ever asked me that question. Truth is it’s service. That’s what we’re all here for – is service. You know, at some point in your life, you realise it’s not about me, and it’s not about gaining stuff, it’s finding ways to serve other people.