What happened

Shares of Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) rose more than 23% higher at 10:51 a.m., EST, as CEO Patrick Byrne finally put a deadline on his long-running efforts to sell off the company's e-commerce operations and focus solely on blockchain technologies.

So what

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal this morning, Byrne indicated that he expects to sell Overstock's retail operations by February of 2019.

"We think we've got cold fusion on the blockchain side," he said.

A steel chain winding back and forth across a plain white background. One chain link is covered in 16-digit hexadecimal number blocks.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Byrne sees more high-octane business growth on the blockchain side than in the e-commerce market.

It's not hard to see where his frustration is coming from: Overstock's annual sales have grown just 10% larger over the last three years, while archrival Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) revenues doubled. At the same time, Amazon produces more than $13 billion in annual free cash flows, while Overstock is consuming more cash than it can generate.

"Being the guy who pedals along and makes $10 to $20 million a year wasn't sustainable," Byrne told WSJ. "We have maybe several multibillion-dollar properties in [the blockchain technologies division]."

It's not unusual to see Overstock's shares making big moves on blockchain-related events, such as large swings in leading cryptocurrency prices or Byrne's musings on a crypto-focused future. That being said, the stock still trades 73% below its year-ago prices and has lost 44% of its value over the last three months. Volatility, thy name is Overstock.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Anders Bylund owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.