More than a token comeback
Former Texas electronics giant RadioShack reboots as cryptocurrency company
Although the RadioShack electronics retail chain essentially crumbled following bankruptcy filings in 2015 and 2017, the name has survived for 100 years. In a bid to make RadioShack relevant for another 100 years, the brand’s new owner is making a play for one of the hottest, and most controversial, emerging business sectors in the world — cryptocurrency.
Seeking to capitalize on RadioShack’s global brand name, Miami-based owner Retail Ecommerce Ventures is propelling RadioShack (once based in Fort Worth) into the promising yet murky territory of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is digital currency built on a technology platform known as blockchain; Bitcoin is perhaps the best-known type of cryptocurrency. In November, the size of the global cryptocurrency market surpassed $3 trillion.
“The need for a bridge between the CEOs who control the world’s corporations and the new world of cryptocurrencies will most likely come in the form of a well-known, century-old brand. RadioShack is perfect,” RadioShack proclaims on its website.
High-profile investors like recent Austin transplant Elon Musk have enthusiastically hopped on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Yet other big-name investors, such as Warren Buffett, cast doubt on the viability of the scam-prone, highly volatile cryptocurrency market.
The owner of RadioShack clearly shares space on the Musk bandwagon. On its website, RadioShack — whose name still appears on hundreds of stores operated by independent dealers, including several in the Austin area — recently revealed plans for a cryptocurrency platform called RadioShack DeFi (short for decentralized finance). The company touts RadioShack DeFi’s ability to profit from a 100-year-old brand name that’s recognized in more than 190 countries and once encompassed more than 8,000 stores.
The concept calls for people to freely swap existing cryptocurrency tokens for newly created RADIO cryptocurrency tokens through the RadioShack DeFi platform.
“It is our hypothesis that the best way for crypto to be more mainstream is for an established brand name in the tech space to lead the way. … Despite its pullback in the last 10 years, the brand is resolutely embedded in the global consciousness — ripe to be pivoted to lead the way for blockchain tech to mainstream adoption by other large brands,” RadioShack declares.
Retail Ecommerce Ventures bought RadioShack’s brand assets in 2020. The business also owns the e-commerce business of Pier 1, formerly based in Texas, along with obsolete retail brands such as Dressbarn, Linens ’n Things, and Stein Mart.
Interestingly, RadioShack’s cryptocurrency setup would run on a system called Atlas USV that’s owned by entrepreneurs Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr — the same guys who own Retail Ecommerce Ventures and, thus, RadioShack.
“Lopez and Mehr are clearly staking the success of the entire operation on the strength of the RadioShack brand with consumers,” PCMag.com observes.