Correction: This story has been updated to correct Amazon's profit history in the second paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Overstock (OSTK) is most famously known for selling inexpensive furniture, but the company has ventured into a wide variety of side projects under the helm of its eccentric CEO, Patrick Byrne.
Overstock frequently gets compared to Amazon (AMZN), and positioned in its shadows, but it has been chugging along profitably for more than a year, whereas Amazon reported losses in two out of the past three quarters. Overstock reported annual revenue of $1.5 billion in 2014, up 15% from 2013, as well as a gross profit of $279.1 million, up 13% from 2013.
Shares are trading around $24, up more than 50% from July, when the company reached its 52-week low of $13.82.
The online retailer has invested in bitcoin technology, community-supported agriculture, pet adoption, and digital content--all seemingly unrelated to Overstock's core business. However, Byrne is confident that all of his ventures are aligned under making Overstock a "way of life."
TheStreet spoke with Byrne to learn more about these side projects and and his goals for the company.
TheStreet: You recently announced that you would be adding digital content streaming for your Club O members. How is your loyalty program doing?
Patrick Byrne: Our Club O program is blossoming; it's a more generous version of what Amazon does, and it's growing very quickly. It's a different feel than Amazon Prime. You [subscribe] for $20, and you get rewards equal to 5%-25% of what you buy from then on. It's a rewards program rather than an expedited shipping program.
We want to use Club O as something that ties together a lot of different ventures we're getting into and to make it more rational for our consumers to pledge their loyalty to Overstock. They save us money when they join our loyalty program--it saves us a lot of marketing costs, so we can share some of that back with them because that's what pays for the benefits. It's a virtuous circle.
TheStreet: You've also recently gotten involved in community supported agriculture (CSA) -- how does that work?
Byrne: We built a platform last year for CSAs to integrate into, and you can order your local fresh food from local farms in season delivered to your door. We've been signing up various farms in America. Right now, 42% of the American population can order organic local delivery through us. We will be at 50% in a month.
TheStreet: Why was this something you wanted to invest in?
Byrne: The food Americans eat is killing them, and they don't know any better. The food the typical American eats is revolting; it's a processed, food-like substance. It's horrible for them, and they don't know any better. We can do what Uber has done to the taxi industry to the mass industrial corporate agriculture supply chain. It's been almost in stealth mode. We're having lots of sales, but we're not advertising it yet.
Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock
Byrne: CSAs have figured out how to do this. There might be 20 farms which get together and buy a warehouse, and it's outside a city. Then they start growing their stuff and bringing it into the warehouse, and in the warehouse there are people boxing it. You pay $35 a week, say, and once a week you get a box delivered to your door, and it's a box that's fresh, so you're eating local. Google and Amazon are focusing on the normal conventional grocery business; we don't really see anything to pursue there. We're focusing on this organic local end of the market.