Overstock.com announced it is going, on May 19, to distribute its long-delayed shareholder dividend for “digital security.”
According to Overstock’s press release, shareholders will receive one Digital Voting Series A-1 Preferred Stock (OSTKO) for every 10 of the online retailer shares they hold on April 27, record date. OSKTO is a “digitally enhanced security” operating on the blockchain-backed platform of affiliate tZERO-the only trading system that can support it.
If the distribution goes without a hitch, it can validate a corporate gambit that has been considered revolutionary by its creator, former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. Byrne thought that the blockchain dividend could drive growth for the blockchain trading system of tZERO, and at the same time “expose the slop,” he said was inherent in the capital markets of Wall Street.
Byrne resigned less than a month after the revelation of his proposal made in July 2019. In Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory filings, Overstock’s new leadership continued to push for blockchain dividends, calling them “of great importance to the Company’s blockchain strategy”.
“In particular, we believe the successful issuance of the Dividend will demonstrate to other issuers and market participants that this technology is scalable and has significant benefits to all market participants,” CEO Jonathan Johnson and chairwoman of the board Allison H. Abraham wrote in the undated filing from Overstock’s investor site.
However, the issuance of dividends for Overstock on May 19 will be more a theoretical demonstration than a technological vindication. As described in the Tuesday filing, OSTKO is not a full digital asset, but a “digitally enhanced security.
That’s because the on-chain representation of OSTKO is a legally irrelevant “courtesy carbon copy” of the actual ownership records of the security held on “conventional records” of the transfer agent Computershare, which is updated before the distributed ledger does.
Johnson said the technology concession is helping the asset “fit within regulatory parameters” (OSTKO is registered with the SEC). Essentially, it is a bridge. “The goal is that as regulators and market participants become increasingly comfortable with DLT/blockchain technology, it will gradually play a larger role in the overall process to the benefit of investors, regulators and other market participants,” he said.