Why Overstock decided to start a price war with Amazon


Gigaom

Overstock.com’s was founded in 1999 with the purpose of selling surplus office goods after the burst of the dot-com bubble, and like many companies from that era, it went through plenty of turbulence.

But the site has gradually drifted away from outlet goods and is now selling everything from rugs to name-brand women’s apparel. It has, in the process, become a stable billion-dollar business.

It’s always been dwarfed by Amazon (s AMZN), which had $61 billion in revenues last year. But Overstock says it’s now ready to take on the goliath. Its first strike? Overstock’s decision this week to undercut Amazon’s prices on some books by 10 percent, which forced the mega-etailer to quietly bring down its prices as well. We asked Overstock CEO Patrick M. Byrne (pictured above) why he thinks he can go toe-to-toe with Amazon.

What was the impetus for challenging Amazon on pricing in books?

We have sold books…

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