This week, Overstock.com announced revisions to its Series A-1 Preferred Stock (OSTKO). The firm wants to drop trading restrictions and allow investors to trade OSTKO shares immediately. This pioneering strategy provides liquidity to investors in a manner that wasn't possible before the advent of blockchain tech.
Eliminate Rule 144 – OSTKO
All traditional shares require a six-month lockup period to be compliant with SEC Rule 144. During this period a series of processes occur to finalize the purchase. Overstock automated these procedures via smart contracts. Now the company seeks SEC approval to eliminate the need to adhere to Rule 144 in this instance.
The Original OSTKO Launch Date
The original record date for the OSTKO launch was September 23, but company executives postponed the date to push their new strategy. Now, Overstock plans to announce the new record date sometime in the next two months.
The new tokenized shares will be slightly different than their traditional counterparts. For example, Overstock's board approved a conversion rate of one digital series A-1 preferred stock to ten shares in common stocks. Interestingly, the company chose to make the new stock only available via the Dinosaur Financial Group brokerage platform.
The Dinosaur Financial Group is also a partner with tZERO, Overstock's blockchain subsidiary. In both instances, the Dinosaur Financial Group functions as the broker-dealer. Basically, the firm provides brokerage accounts for investors seeking to trade these digital assets.
Discussing the partnership at that time, Dinosaur's Managing Director of Equity, Elliot Grossman described his company's pride in being a pioneer in the industry. He said that the technology has the potential to create “disruptive changes for issuance, trading, and settlement in capital markets.” Today, Grossman is the CEO of tZERO.
Speaking on the OSTKO shares, Overstock's Interim CEO, Jonathon Johnson discussed the interest seen from broker-dealers, regulators, and shareholders. He called the technology groundbreaking before touting integrated compliance and investor protections.
Most importantly, Johnson explained that blockchain technology improves the overall investor experience. He also described the tech as having an “enormous potential to transform society for the better.”
Slow Short Selling
It was Overstock's ex-CEO, Patrick Byrne who first thought up the idea of tokenizing shares. Ironically, the strategy originated as a way to stop ramped short selling of their stock. Byrne claims a well-organized group of fraudsters targeted Overstock for the last year via these short sales attacks.
The short sellers seemed to only work with dollars so the plan to tokenize worked great. That was until early this week when Morgan Stanly and JPMorgan started accepting fiat payments for the tokenized stock. The news caused an investor frenzy that sent Overstock shares down 40% from a recent 52-week high.
Overstock is Full Blockchain
It’s interesting to see how Overstock uses its blockchain know-how to navigate the market-scape. In this case, the use of blockchain to stop short sales attacks resulted in the development of a better investor experience. You can expect to see more from these innovative developers in the coming weeks as OSTKO goes live.