Patrick Byrne is the founder and CEO of Overstock.com. He also has a doctorate in philosophy, a survivalist ranch where he could ride out a hypothetical zombie invasion, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, ambitions that go far beyond retail.
Byrne has railed against corruption on Wall Street for decades, occasionally using Overstock as a weapon, like when he took the company public outside of Wall Street in 2002, using a transaction known as a Dutch auction. Now he's intrigued by bitcoin — in particular, blockchain, the technology behind the currency, which he thinks he can use to dismantle what he sees as dangerous institutions.
In 2015, Overstock.com became the first company to accept the cryptocurrency as payment. And though Byrne still runs the retail site, he's pouring his time — and profits — into financing blockchain-based start-ups, including an alternative stock exchange. Along the way, he's attracted a following of crypto fans who share his vision for a blockchain-fueled future.
VICE News spent some time with Byrne at a party in Miami, at the Overstock headquarters in Utah, and at his mysterious ski chalet to find out why he's betting so big on blockchain.
This segment originally aired March 21, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.