We live in a world where the inquisitive expression of a dog is a form of currency. Is this the Mad Max universe? Not quite. Instead, a joke has truly gotten away from its creators. Memes are now cryptocurrency and can create or topple empires. The SHIB price at any given moment is something that can affect lots of peoples’ bank balances.
Meme coins are a category of cryptocurrencies inspired by internet memes and other viral content. It started with the famous Doge coin but has expanded into an entire subgenre of coins. So, where did this bizarre meshing of memes and crypto come from? We explore in this guide to the entire history of meme coins.
Where did it start?
The joke started with DogeCoin, or DOGE. The famous Shiba Inu with the disturbed expression had already been on the internet for decades by the time the coin was established in 2013. The Doge meme was initially posted in 2010 and started gaining meme status in 2012. In 2013, Jackson Palmer and Billy Markus created the Dogecoin cryptocurrency featuring the meme’s dog as its mascot. This further cemented the meme’s legacy and helped keep it relevant. While created as a joke, Dogecoin ended up having a multi-billion-dollar market capitalization at its peak.
Since then, the joke has been run off the rails. The humour appreciation of branding a coin with a meme, rather than a president or queen has led to the creation of lots of meme coins. To the point that they are legitimately competition to the market’s leading crypto coins, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Over the last few years, YouTubers and big influencers have launched a lot of crypto coins that are based on memes and use that influencer’s audience to leverage the legitimacy of the coin. Some notable examples include British YouTuber KSI, and his KSI coin, reaching over $300 million, Logan Paul who launched CryptoZoo, however it is the centre of a lawsuit right now, and PewDiePie, who partnered with Elon Musk to make Musk Coin in 2021. Other names include Jake Paul, Soulja Boy, RiceGum and FaZe Banks.
Some famous examples
If you’re interested in more of these meme coins, we have put together a list. A few of them are the epitome of taking a joke too far by being offshoots of the Doge meme, such as Shiba Inu (SHIB), which was Inspired by Dogecoin and uses the same Shiba Inu dog as its mascot. This one exploded in popularity in 2021 as “the Dogecoin killer”. And the Baby DogeCoin (BABYDOGE) is another spin-off of Dogecoin aimed at cuteness with the baby dog meme. It gained prominence due to being promoted by Elon Musk as “Baby Doge”. And finally, there is Doge Dash (DOGEDASH), a multimodal meme coin mixing Doge, popular NFT CryptoPunks and Pokemon.
As a competitor, there is the Floki Inu (FLOKI) coin, which is themed around Floki, the Shiba Inu dog of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It was named after his pet to tap into Musk fandom. And there is the Samoyed Coin (SAMO), featuring the fluffy Samoyed dog that went viral based on endorsements from Solana founder Anatoly Yakovenko.
Even more include Shiba Floki (FLOKISHIB), merging the Floki and Shiba Inu meme, the Dogelon Mars coin (ELON), based on Elon Musk’s ambition to colonise Mars, and MonaCoin (MONA), featuring Mona, an ASCII art character of a cat wearing a bow.
A lot of these are attributed to the meme coin explosion in 2021, which saw a huge interest in trading activity as cryptocurrencies became a topic of mainstream conversation and much less of a hypothetical idea. It was led by the crypto bull run forcing coins to gain noticeably and endorsement from Elon Musk.
What are the uses of meme coins?
Meme coins don’t have much of a real-world use beyond marketing. No one can deny the joke is what makes it great. Everyone wants to be a part of something, and there’s nothing worse than not being in on the joke, and people are willing to pay money to prove it. The virality of the meme is the selling point, rarely with any tech innovation behind it. Due to this, they are rarely embraced by business workflows. However, meme coins have the popularity that regular crypto coins and currencies can only dream of, rocketing them forward.
The future of meme coins is about as vague as a joke. Will the joke be repeated, memed, as you will, and spread around the world forever? Or will the joke fade into oblivion taking its value with it. If you are invested in meme coins, you might want to keep an eye on it and exit when you think the hype is dying down.
The concept of a meme coin might have started with Doge, but it has rapidly taken off. Now there are dozens of doge-themed coins and lots of other jokes joining the list. Although part of the crypto boom in 2021, we’re now three years in and they are still a major competitor on the crypto market.