When the Doge meme first became popular, I doubt anyone would’ve expected it to have mainstream financial implications in 2020 and 2021. But that’s how things went. So surprise, much twist.
Based on a 2010 photograph taken by a Japanese kindergarten teacher, Doge gained widespread popularity in 2013, a year which featured the creation of r/doge, a 4chan spam raid using the meme which went over surprisingly well, and the introduction of a YouTube Easter egg which no longer works. December of that year was when IBM software engineer Billy Markus and Adobe software engineer Jackson Palmer created Dogecoin (DOGE), as something between a joke and an alternative cryptocurrency which could attract a broader demographic.
That same month saw the first Dogecoin crash and the first major Dogecoin theft (on Christmas, no less). These two events made DOGE the most mentioned altcoin on Twitter at the time, though it was cast in a negative light. Nonetheless, the coin had a dedicated community in the years since, which persisted even after the departure of Palmer from the cryptocurrency space.
In July 2020, the coin experienced an insane run-up thanks to a TikTok trend aiming to get DOGE to $1. This was perhaps foreshadowing for the year after, which in its first six months has already seen Dogecoin break into the top five cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, gain an important supporter and collaborator in the form of Elon Musk (who’s taking a Dogecoin to the Moon on a mission paid for in DOGE), and see small-scale acceptance as a payment method.
What makes Dogecoin so popular? A combination of a low and unintimidating unit price, potential as an everyday currency, plus an adorable and recognizable face have come together to make Dogecoin a resounding success in the crypto space. With former poker star Mike McDonald touting DOGE as the second-best cryptocurrency (after BTC), Snoop Dogg releasing a 420 video celebrating the coin, and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin proposing a bridge between Dogecoin and Ethereum like the one in the works for Cardano and Nervos, it seems that Dogecoin’s full potential has yet to be seen.
There’s even an entire category of Doge altcoins, of which Shiba Inu (SHIB) is the biggest player. Self-styled “the Dogecoin killer”, it recently made headlines when Vitalik Buterin donated $1 billion in SHIB to the India Covid Relief Fund, resulting in a price plunge of 36%. In terms of its ability to take on its largest competitor, SHIB still has a long way to go before it becomes as attractive and as easy to buy as Dogecoin. But as the Doge meme expands and even more people step into the crypto space, who knows how much room there is to grow?
Kabosu, the photo subject whose face has become the greatest meme of the past decade, was reported to have died by CCTV. Luckily, she (yes, Doge is a girl) is alive and well. Outside of just Kabo-chan, the dog breed behind the Doge cryptocurrencies and the original meme are feeling the effects of the Doge fad. Shiba Inu dogs have exploded in popularity as household pets, and their market value has skyrocketed due to people wanting to get one for themselves.
Unfortunately, there are also downsides to this real-life dog boom: first-time owners are finding the breed hard to manage, and more and more Shiba Inu are finding their way into shelters and rescue agencies. Moral of this story? Whether it’s the coin or the breed, do your own research before you buy. Then, after you buy, HODL. Much diamond hands, wow.