Overstock Inc.

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Overstock1.JPG
Type: Public
Industry: Internet Retailer
Founded: 1999
Founder(s): Dr. Patrick M. Byrne
Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah
Country: USA
Revenue: $1,089,873,000 as of 2010 [1]
Website: Overstock.com
Facebook: O.co
Twitter: TwitterIcon.png@odotco
Key People
Dr. Patrick Byrne, Chairman & CEO
Jonathan E. Johnson III, President

Overstock.com, also known as O.co, is an online closeout retail store offering a variety of brand name merchandise including apparel, bed & bath, electronics, home decorations, furniture, jewelry, kitchenware and many other products. The company also maintains an auction site where interested entities are able to buy and sell products and services. Listings for cars and real estate for sale are also available on the company website.[2] The company aims to become the leading Internet-based closeout solution for brand name merchandise holders and the primary one-stop online discount shop for consumers.[3]

In February, 2012, Overstock also launched O.info, which is a consumer review portland made up of blogs, reviews and buying guides.[4]

In 2009, Overstock.com launched O.biz, after ICANN approved the proposal of Neustar to release one and two-character domains.[5] Overstock.com partnered with Neustar in launching the new domain name to provide opportunity for small businesses and consumers interested in purchasing large quantities of products for bigger discounts.[6]

History

Overstock.com was originally founded in 1997 by Robert Brazell as D2: Discounts Direct, a limited liability corporation. D2: Discounts Direct failed and Dr. Patrick M. Byrne acquired the company. In 1999, Byrne relaunched the company website under its new name, Overstock.com, selling excess inventory merchandise with less than 100 products. Byrne established Overstock.com under the principles of value, investing and fair dealing.[7] Brazell remain President and CEO of the new Overstock.com until his resignation on October of 1999. He agreed to serve the company as consultant for 18 months.[8]

At the end of year 1999, the company recorded a total revenue of $1,835,000.[9] In 2000, Overstock.com acquired ToyTime.com Inc.,[10] Gear.com, a leading closeout online retailer of sporting goods, and online jewelers Miadora.com and Jewelry.com.[11]

In 2002, the company filed its Initial Public Offering (IPO) under the ticker symbol OSTK with the Security and Exchange Commission. Overstock.com offered 3 million common shares at $13 per share and it was able to raise $39 million.[12]

Overstock.com acquired online travel company Ski West Inc. for $25 million cash in 2005.[13] The acquisition expanded the company's travel business which was introduced in 2003. In 2005, however, the company decided to sell OTravel.com, its travel services subsidiary, due to a $6.9 million loss and a goodwill impairment charge of $4.5 million in 2006.[14] The travel site has since followed the domain branding change, and as of early 2012 it was known as O.co Travel; the back-end travel services are provided by Priceline.[15]

In April 2011, Overstock.com acquired the naming rights for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for six years. The name of the coliseum was the Overstock.com Coliseum, but it has since been changed to O.co following their corporate domain branding change.[16]

O.co

In 2011, Overstock.com purchased O.co from .co Internet S.A.S. for $350,000 in order to launch a new brand for the company using the new domain name.[17][18] The company's advertising initiatives have since been focused on the letter O, and the company has created Club O, a program for its loyal costumers. Furthermore, the company recently purchased the domain name O.info. Byrne said that the company plans to launch the site by March next year and it will provide consumers with product information, user manuals, buyer's guides and other related materials.[19]

Months later, in November, 2011, Overstock announced that it was slowing down its transition to "O.co". Apparently, many consumers were trying to access the website at "o.com" even after seeing the .co branded commercials. The stadium in Oakland will continue to be called O.co, and they are not abandoning the rebrand, instead they will be focusing on first using it in the European market and in their mobile apps. It will subsequently refocus its efforts in making the move clear to American consumers.[20]

In March 2012, during the company's 4th quarter conference call with analysts, CEO Patrick Byrne said that 8 out of 13 Internet users who tried to visit O.co typed O.com instead. Byrne said that O.co was a bad decision on his part.[21] The company's total revenue in 2011 was down by more than 3% compared in 2010,[22] and fourth quarter revenue was down 10%.[23]

Company Growth

Since the company's relaunch in 1999 with only less than 100 products to sell, Overstock.com has grown to more than 960,000 products for sale. In 2010, it reported a total revenue of more than $1.089 billion with 1500 employees.[24] Over the years, Overstock.com's business operations have expanded internationally. Its services are now available in 32 countries and its online retail store is now offering its products to consumers across 91 countries.[25]

After rebranding Overstock.com as O.co in 2011, Byrne said that the company recorded international sales of $6.6 million in the nine month period ending Sept. 30, which is up by 24%. The company was ranked no. 27 by the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Byrne also added that currently O.co is shipping to consumers located in 94 countries.[26]

Worldstock Fair Trade (Worldstock.com)

In an effort to provide consumers with cheaper prices, Overstock.com created a department known as the Worldstock Fair Trade (Worldstock.com), offering products made by artisans from developing countries such as Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, and Nepal. The company's main objective is not to make profit but to help create jobs for poor craftspeople worldwide. As of September 2011, Worldstock Fair Trade has already created an estimated 10,000 jobs for artisans in 52 countries worldwide. As of August 2011, more than $71 million has been returned to the artisans from the sales price of products under Worldstock.com.[27]

Awards

Overstock.com has received several accolades from organizations, including:

  • The National Retail Federation & American Express, ranked 4th in Customer Service
  • Stevie Awards, Customer Service Department of the Year and Retail and Sales Department of the Year (2011)
  • Forbes, No. 1 in Employee Satisfaction
  • Glassdoor, One of the Top Ten Best Places to Work in Corporate America[28]

Legal Battle

In 2005, Overstock.com filed legal charges against Rocker Partners, a hedge fund known for its short-selling practices and Gradient Analytics, Inc., a research firm, accusing both companies of conspiracy in defaming Overstock.com's reputation to make profit. Overstock.com cited that the two companies and some of their employees collaborated in releasing "malicious and tainted" research reports, which affected the company's stocks resulting to a 44% drop in shares.[29] In 2008, Rocker Partners & Gradients Analytics settled their legal dispute with Overstock.com out of court. Rocker paid Overstock.com $5 million for damages while Gradient Analytics' settlement with the company was undisclosed. Gradient issued a statement of regret and reverted its research reports about Overstock.com.[30]

In 2007, Overstock.com filed a $3.48 billion lawsuit against Wall Street Companies Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and other brokers, alleging that the companies illegally manipulated the stock market by practicing "naked short selling," causing Overstock.com's share prices to drop.[31] In November 2010, Overstock.com amended its lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, adding an accusation of racketeering. The trial on the case is scheduled on December 2011 before a jury.[32]

Overstock.com and ICANN

Issue on Single Letter and Two Character Domain Names

Overstock.com is a member of ICANN's Commercial and Business Users Constituency.[33] The company has been involved in the activities of ICANN since 2004. In 2005, Overstock.com's Chairman and CEO Patrick Byrne sent a letter to then ICANN CEO Paul Twomey requesting the ICANN Board to support a policy allowing the registration of single letter domain names. Byrne informed Twomey of its interest to register the single letter/second level domain name O.com.[34]

Aside from Overstock.com, there was a significant number of third parties who also expressed their interest and inquiries on the issue. In response, ICANN created a Forum on Allocation Methods for Single-Letter and Single-Digit Domain Names based on the recommendation of the GNSO Council in 2007. Prior to the GNSO Council's recommendation, the Reserved Names Working Group reviewed and consulted technical experts about the technical implications of releasing single-letter and single-digit domain names. All possible single-letter and single-digit domain names had been reserved by Jon Postel in 1993.[35]

In 2009, Overstock.com launched O.biz, after ICANN approved the proposal of Neustar to release one and two-character domains.[36] Overstock.com partnered with Neustar in launching the new domain name to provide opportunity for small businesses and consumers interested in purchasing large quantities of products for bigger discounts.[37]

Issue on Trademark Protection for New gTLDs

In 2009, Overstock.com's President Jonathan Johnson III expressed the company's concern regarding the issue on Trade Protection for new gTLDs. In his letter addressed to ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush and ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom, Johnson questioned the commercial need for the introduction of hundreds of gTLDs and opined that such a move meant "adding new properties to the Monopoly board." He emphasized that the proposed protection measures of the IRT Final Report are not enough to protect the interests of brand owners. However, Johnson also expressed his willingness to work with ICANN to create further solutions to resolve the concerns regarding trademark protection.[38]

References

  1. Revenue 2010
  2. www.overstock.com Who We Are
  3. Overstock.com FORM 10-K/A
  4. Overstockcom Launches Oinfo Consumer Information Portal, PRNewsWire.com
  5. NeuStar’s Release of One- and Two-Character .BIZ Domains
  6. Overstock.com Launching O.BIZ Bulk Merchandise Site
  7. Company History
  8. Overstock.com FORM S-1 REGISTRATION STATEMENT, page 64
  9. Corporation Information Quick Statistics
  10. Estate Sale Today
  11. S.L.-based Overstock.com triples inventory through acquisitions
  12. overstock.com, Inc. Initial Public Offering
  13. Overstock.com Acquires Ski West, Inc.
  14. Overstock.com selling its OTravel.com subsidiary
  15. Overstock Launches O.co Travel Picks Priceline to Run its Travel Service, TheDomains.com
  16. Overstock.com Acquires Naming Rights to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
  17. Overstock.com Buys O.co Domain Name for $350,000
  18. Google OUTBID on g.co.uk at auction
  19. Overstock Rides O.co to Over A Billion Dollars IN Sales; Up 24% YTD
  20. Overstock come slows down Oco Rebranding, DomainIncite.com
  21. Overstock.com’s decision to rebrand itself O.co had a disastrous effect on the internet retailer’s traffic, according to its CEO
  22. Overstock.Com Inc (OSTK:NASDAQ GM)
  23. Overstock.com’s decision to rebrand itself O.co had a disastrous effect on the internet retailer’s traffic, according to its CEO
  24. Corporate Information
  25. Overstock.com expands international sales to 32 more countries
  26. Overstock Rides O.co to Over a Billion Dollars in Sales; Up 24% YTD
  27. Worldstock Fair Trade
  28. Awards and Recognition
  29. Overstock.com sues Short-Seller Rocker Partners
  30. Rocker Settles on Lawsuit, Pays Overstock.com $5 Million
  31. Overstock Sues Brokers
  32. Patrick Byrne Amends Suit Against Goldman Sachs To Include Charges of Racketeering
  33. BC Membership List
  34. Dr. Patrick Byrne Letter to Paul Twomey
  35. ICANN Establishes Forum on Allocation Methods for Single-Letter and Single-Digit Domain Names
  36. NeuStar’s Release of One- and Two-Character .BIZ Domains
  37. Overstock.com Launching O.BIZ Bulk Merchandise Site
  38. Jonathan John III Letter to ICANN