Volt Inu (VOLT) is a hyper-deflationary token seeking to help users diversify their investments across several asset types. Its goal is to build a loyal community, the VOLTARMY, whose members will have access to a growing ecosystem of assets and products, including NFTs, reflections, merchandise, and a P2E game. The meme-coin trend produced several projects with varying degrees of success and popularity in recent years. For instance, some coins like Shiba Inu made it into the top-10 cryptos by market…
From the failure of the “Let’s Go Brandon” token to controversies around Will Smith Inu, meme coins are beginning to generate suspicious rep, despite their popularity. Spanning almost a decade of existence themselves, meme tokens have managed to carve out their own flourishing niche in the crypto industry. They are also most likely going to stay.
Considering their cheap prices and popularity, some argue that meme tokens are a good entry point into crypto for newbies. But are they really? Or are they just a popular mockery of the cryptocurrency industry at this point? Is the traction they generate more important than integrity?
In the Beginning, There Was DOGE
The first meme coin, DOGE, and currently the most popular, was indeed created to mock the flurry of “Bitcoin Clones” flocking the market at the time. Formed in 2013 by two software engineers, Jackson Palmer and Billy Markus, Dogecoin was invented and marketed as a joke: a Bitcoin parody. A satirical fusion of the rising cryptocurrency and a popular internet meme called Doge, which was based on the Japanese dog breed, Shiba Inu.
This was about four years after Bitcoin. By this time, Bitcoin was well less than $1000. Cryptocurrencies were not as mainstream as they are now. And some of those who did know about Bitcoin were either skeptical or confused by the technology. So when Dogecoin presented itself as a fun, relatable, and community-based project with an unlimited supply, many quickly embraced it.
From raising $30,000 for the Jamaican bobsled team to donating $11,000 to build a well in Kenya, Dogecoin quickly began to show how community-centric it could be. It was a joke that quickly grew on people, one the audience received well. This was in 2014. In 2015, however, controversies began to set in. The creator of the coin announced he was taking an “extended leave of absence” from the crypto community. He had misgivings about the crypto space and the new players it was attracting.
All in all, the cryptocurrency space increasingly feels like a bunch of white libertarian bros sitting around hoping to get rich and coming up with half-baked, buzzword-filled business ideas which often fail in an effort to try and do so,” Palmer said.
Palmer made a spot-on diagnosis in 2015. What he didn’t know was that his experiment would degenerate into an incurable trend six years later, starting with the Shiba Inu coin.
The Rise of Shiba Inu (SHIB) and others
Dogecoin continued to evolve and attract worldwide attention, especially when Tesla CEO, Elon Musk picked interest in the coin. Soon, Dogecoin’s mascot Shiba Inu would not only be the face of Dogecoin but the name of a new meme coin.
Shiba Inu (SHIB) slipped into the cryptoverse in August 2020 to poke some fun too, but this time, at Dogecoin. The second meme token in history was duly nicknamed “Dogecoin Killer.” Although launched as a meme coin, it came with a 28-page whitepaper and one goal: to promote decentralization and put financial power back in the hands of the average person.
SHIB was one of the best performing cryptocurrencies in 2021, experiencing a meteoric rise of 46,000,000 percent that year. Its rise birthed many millionaires, including newbies with zero investing experience. And along with its production of millionaires came a massive birth of other memecoins as well. Different “Inu” tokens popped up, and new crypto entrants scrambled to have a share in a bid to become the next millionaire.
Shiba Inu’s success opened a Pandora’s box of pump-and-dump and rugpull scams. The first one was Floki Inu, whose original developer ran off with most of its funds. Fortunately, the community managed to resuscitate it. The following ones were Floki Shiba, Baby Floki Inu, and several others. All suffered a similar fate – whales either rugpulled or dumped them at their highs.
It appeared there was always an opportunistic “team” waiting to take advantage of a new pop culture trend by launching a meme coin. Take, for instance, the Squid Game token. The Squid Game token was based on the popular Netflix series, Squid Game. SQUID turned out to be a rug pull scam that defrauded investors of over $3 million in November 2021.
One would think that the Squid Game experience would serve as insight into the risky quality of meme coins. Regardless, hype about tokens built on trends still remains. In March, a certain Eric De Ford sued Let’s Go Brandon coin creators for price manipulation – the first time memecoin creators perpetuating a pump-and-dump scheme have been tried to be held accountable.
Last December, a Canadian company had threatened to sue the Shiba Inu team for loss of funds, while accusing its creators of remaining anonymous. However, the company’s claims did not hold water.
Given these two cases happened within three months of each other, there is every indication the lawsuits could continue. Especially as more meme coins will pop up in the future. Additionally, memecoin rugpulls alongside other forms of fraud also fuel government apathy and anti-crypto sentiments.
The Memecoin Comedy
“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” a dumbfounded Chris Rock told the world. This was moments after Will Smith had smacked the comedian hard on the face at the 2022 Oscars. That singular act from Will made the 94th Academy Awards an event that most won’t forget in a hurry. However, we can’t say the same about Will Smith Inu, the meme coin that inspired by the slap.
Will Smith Inu: A Typical Meme Coin
Will Smith Inu may have shared the same name as the legendary actor, what it didn’t share, however, was the resonating perpetuity of the name. Like a typical meme coin, it faded almost as quickly as it launched.
About 48 hours after the Academy Awards, Will Smith Inu (WSI) token was launched. Described as a 100% decentralized and community-driven ERC-20 token, WSI had a total supply of 1 trillion and traded on UniSwap. It had no whitepaper, no utility, yet it rallied by 10,000% within 24 hours of its launch with a trading volume of $3.65 million. But this rally didn’t last. Within two days after many early investors had cashed out, WSI lost about 80% of its value—and all of its hype.
Will Smith's slap became a Memecoin dubbed Will Smith Inu.
The coin generated more than $3M in trading volume, which later collapsed to zero a week later.
Just a normal day in cryptoland.
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) April 11, 2022
Hype: The Quicksand Upon Which Meme Coins Are Built
Apart from the currently reshingled DOGE and SHIB, most meme-based crypto projects have no substantial quality. They have no real team and no real use case, just hype drawn from fleeting trends. Most of them come with poorly written whitepapers (e.g. Squid Game token) or no whitepaper at all (e.g. Will Smith Inu).
To have no whitepaper or plan is comedic enough. And that is alright – memes should be funny anyway. The situation only stops being funny when novices fall victims to scams, losing their money. Last December, Google revealed Dogecoin was its fourth most popular news search in 2021 and also its most-searched cryptocurrency. Shiba Inu followed very closely as the third most-searched cryptocurrency. The impressive google trends show that meme tokens have grown quickly to be many people’s first contact with the crypto industry. Thus, it is no surprise that investors like Eric de Ford are aggrieved enough to sue.
To longtime crypto enthusiasts, the red flags of meme coins are often crystal clear, yet several still manage to miss them. Either because they are naive entrants, or just experienced enthusiasts hoping to risk some quick money.
— 🔥SafeMoonWarrior (@SafemoonWarrior) December 9, 2021
If one reduces the industry to the infamy of meme coins, the crypto space can easily be perceived as a joke. In fact, isn’t it almost a joke already? Comedy sells. This is why it is no surprise that meme tokens top the search in terms of crypto popularity. It is also the reason why many would invest in the lucrative caricature that are meme coins rather than solid crypto projects.
However, it’s not all bad; there is always a cost to fame. Thus, a little bad reputation in its mainstream adoption might just be at crypto’s own cost.
What is the Fate of Meme Coins?
Regardless of the fleeting trends that birth them, meme coins are here to stay. New trends and new memes will always spring forth. And there would always be someone on the other side of the blockchain waiting to capitalize on these trends.
Now, meme coins aren’t entirely detrimental to the cryptoverse. If kept in check, they have the capacity of playing an important role in the space: promoting crypto adoption. Their fun, relatable and consumer-friendly qualities show that cryptocurrencies aren’t only for tech-savants and investment gurus.
Thank you #dogecoin for bringing so much mainstream attention to crypto
— Ash WSB (@ashwsbreal) June 28, 2021
Furthermore, with coins like DOGE and SHIB we see real community-focused use cases. We can only watch and see if other meme tokens can borrow a leaf from their progenitors? Can meme coins become real lucrative cryptos instead of lucrative caricatures?