A friend of mine remarked the other day, wearing a pained expression, that he wished he had bought Dogecoin.
“What? Why?” I asked, struggling to mask my incredulity.
“Because the price has gone up so much. It’s up, like, 1,000% recently,” he said. “Elon Musk is endorsing it.” (Dogecoin’s price has surged 1,600% since the start of the year, as of the time of this newsletter’s writing.)
“Musk isn’t actually endorsing Dogecoin,” I replied in horror. So the mantle of buzzkill had been thrust upon me. “It’s a meme, like a literal joke. It’s funny.”
It was at that moment I realized some people are not in on the joke. Or, they don’t care that it’s a joke and they just want to join the party and make money? Reluctantly, I began my lecture about the inflationary economics of the Dogecoin money supply. Ten thousand new Dogecoins are programmed to be issued every minute for the rest of eternity, all but assuring the debasement of their value over time. Unlike Bitcoin, which is designed to be deflationary in the long term, Doge, intentionally, forever cheapens.
Wow, I realized, when did I get so boring?
Anyway, celebrities are apparently more fun than me. Billionaire Tesla CEO and recent Bitcoin convert Elon Musk has been singing the praises of Doge, if ironically, for years. Snoop Dogg, the rapper, recently rebranded himself, in jest, as “Snoop Doge.” Gene Simmons, the Kiss rock star, declared himself the “God Of Doge” and said he purchased a six-figure sum of the cryptocurrency. (As of press time, each Dogecoin traded for just under $0.08, up from half a penny at the start of the year; so yeah, that’s a lot of Doge.)
Doge enthusiasts generally come in one of three breeds. First are the Jokesters, like Musk. Second are the Gamblers, who are at best speculators, like Simmons, or at worst scam artists. Third are the Apologists who, like Shark Tank investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, contend that Dogecoin offers an amusing entry point for people to educate themselves about digital currencies and investing. “It’s the best entertainment bang for your buck available,” he told Forbes.
Doge haters, on the other hand, tend to come in one type: the Spoilsports, or people who worry Doge investors are going to hurt themselves. Often that concern is self-interested, as in the case of ex-hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz, who recently shared his distaste for the antics of Doge pumpers on Twitter. As the CEO of the cryptocurrency-focused fund Galaxy Investment Partners, Novogratz is one of many Bitcoin bulls who stand to lose if public—or regulatory—sentiment sours on cryptocurrency; say, if the Doge bubble pops and people lose their shirts. As Bloomberg Opinion’s Lionel Laurent writes, “Even a blowup of the Dogecoin trade would leave their own favorite cryptocurrency potentially tainted by association.”
I have long been a member of the Musk camp myself. Doge is funny! But, I guess, after lecturing my friend and writing this newsletter, I could be said to have migrated to Team Cuban. My two rules for Dogecoin are: 1. Don’t buy Dogecoin to make money. (Sorry, Simmons.) And 2. Buy Dogecoin strictly for recreation, because it’s silly and stupid and fun, like an amusement park ride.
If nothing else, Dogecoin will at least teach people this about cryptocurrency and investing: It’s a doge eat doge world out there.
Poisoning the well. Someone attempted to remotely poison the water supply of Oldsmar, a city in Florida, reported the Tamp Bay Times. A hacker accessed the city’s water treatment system and tried to increase the amount of caustic lye, or sodium hydroxide, contained in the supply by a factor of 100. A supervisor caught the potentially deadly hi-jinx and prevented it from happening. Apparently, the would-be poisoner gained control using remote access software called TeamViewer. (The facility has apparently uninstalled the software since.)
Punk’d. The Polish game studio behind the infamously buggy Cyberpunk 2077 can’t catch a break. The company, CD Projekt Red, said it got hit with ransomware and will not cave to hackers’ demands for payment. The company said it is working with law enforcement to investigate the attack.
Not In My Clubhouse. For a few days, Chinese mainlanders were able to poke their heads above China’s Internet restrictive Great Firewall by using Clubhouse, Silicon Valley’s latest social media app. The grace period lasted only a few days before China’s censors started blocking the service. Meanwhile, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei says he’s interested in meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.
GameStart. The self-described front page of the Internet just got a cash injection. Hot off the GameStop stock mania, which boiled over from its r/WallStreetBet message board, Reddit has raised $250 million at a $6 billion valuation. The new private valuation doubles the company’s last appraisal in Feb. 2019. CEO Steve Huffman says Reddit plans to use the money building out its video, advertising and international offerings.
Coming un-Glooed. Alphabet warned in its annual earnings filing that it may have a difficult time maintaining its corporate culture as a result of the pandemic, CNBC notes. With so many of Google’s 135,000 employees working remotely, it’s hard to keep the company’s esprit de corp intact.
Two words: Spinach email.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace," a foundational document for cyberlibertarianism, a kind of techno-fetishistic philosophy that tells off world governments. The poetic text was penned by John Perry Barlow, a late founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Grateful Dead lyricist. He wrote it in response to the United States' passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a piece of legislation that contains Section 230, a lately controversial law that shields Internet companies from liabilities of their users.
Joshua Benton at Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab reassesses the essay's legacy in the unforgiving glare of hindsight.
If you really can’t separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat…you end up with a lot of people googling “mesothelioma” because they can’t breathe.
Today, this sort of cyberlibertarianism remains in style in a few corners of the technology industry, but for the general public, the shine is off that apple. As with “the air that chokes,” there’s a growing acceptance of the fact that unfettered spaces generate what economists call negative externalities; your right to spew poison into the air conflicts with my desire not to die of cancer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Feds’ $3 billion Bitcoin seizure tied to corrupt federal agents by Jeff John Roberts
China is leaning into antitrust regulation to stay competitive with the U.S. by Angela Huyue Zhang
(Some of these stories require a subscription to access.Thank you for supporting our journalism.)
BEFORE YOU GO
For longtime subscribers of Data Sheet (you know who you are, dear readers), the recent boom in newsletters should come as no surprise. Inbox inbounds simply offer a superior way to consume information, especially compared to the noisy, distracting, bottomless slot machines of social media. Maybe that's why Twitter and Facebook are now getting in on the game with newsletter offerings of their own.
Hamish McKenzie, the journalist turned Tesla flak turned founder of hot newsletter startup Substack, is taking the high road and welcoming the competition from Big Tech. (Of course, that's after initially taking a lower road, by his own admission, on Twitter: "The tweet makes me sound like much more of an asshole than I am in real life, but–what can I say?–I did it for the internet points.")
Well, here at Data Sheet, we salute your business-building efforts, McKenzie. Newsletters rock; you win the Internet points for helping the world wise up.