By Liam Benedict
Tesla’s purchase of $1.5 billion in Bitcoin has shown that the cryptocurrency market has significant mainstream potential. Additionally, mixed with that is the actions taken by the Subreddit WallStreetBets, which have encouraged the everyday internet user to take finance into their own hands. Both events, mixed with a string of celebrity endorsements, have caused the cryptocurrency Dogecoin’s popularity and value to rise in recent weeks.
Cryptocurrency, the new frontier in finance, has only been around for a relatively short amount of time. Bitcoin, the first decentralized cryptocurrency, was released in 2009 initially as open-source software––the original source code made freely available, redistributed and modified.
Its value has fluctuated vastly over the years of its relatively brief existence but has been on the rise in recent years. Its success has inspired many other cryptocurrency creations, each with its varying levels of success. One of these many rival currencies was never intended to be a competitor at all: Dogecoin.
Dogecoin got its start in 2013. It was created by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, who created a payment system that was “instant, fun, and free from traditional banking fees.” Specifically, the digital currency was supposed to be a joke, a parody of the other cryptocurrencies arising at the time.
This intention is made clear when you look at the namesake of the cryptocurrency. Doge refers to the nickname given to the viral internet dog Kabosu, a Japanese Shibu Inu, who became an insanely popular meme after its owners posted strangely amusing pictures of it on their blog back in 2010, inspiring an endless amount of memes.
Of course, not much came from this joke cryptocurrency in the early years of its existence. If even its creators knew it was a joke, one would surely guess that it was destined for obscurity, just another joke that went out of style.
However, in a poetic turn of events, as the meme has become popular again, so has the cryptocurrency based on it. One of the prominent people responsible for the digital currencies’ recent rise is the billionaire CEO of Tesla Elon Musk. He has posted several jokes about Dogecoin over the years to his 44.8 million Twitter followers. Although his posts may have been jokes, his tweets carry serious weight, as we have seen in the past.
For example, CNBC reported how “[h]e recently posted a picture of a fictional ‘Dogue’ magazine — a play on the fashion title ‘Vogue’ — leading to an 800% surge in dogecoin’s price.” Other influential figures tweeting about Dogecoin to their followers include music legends Snoop Dog and Gene Simmons.
But regardless of their intent, Dogecoin has seen a noticeable benefit from all the media attention. However, these celebrity shout-outs are not the only factor behind the currency’s sudden rise.
For one thing, Dogecoin has also been pushed by the popular Subreddit “Satoshi Street Bets.” Right on their front page, they aptly describe themselves as “The Crypto version of WallStreetBets,” the now-famous Subreddit that shorted the Wall Street hedge funds a few weeks ago.
We have all seen the power these Subreddits can hold, so it is no wonder that Dogecoin has started to rise.
Dogecoin is not a brand new gold rush. Even at its height, a Dogecoin was still worth less than a cent. However, the insane and sudden rise in its value is still impressive, and Dogecoin is now worth more than major companies such as Wendy’s, GrubHub and Planet Fitness.
Ultimately, even if Dogecoin has not amounted to much, its rise is an interesting side effect of Elon Musk’s notable bitcoin investment and WallStreetBets market revolution.
Liam Benedict is a first-year English major from the small town of Galt, California. He is a writer and is planning on becoming a lawyer in the future.
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