Saturday night could make or break Dogecoin

Dogecoin buyers are hanging their hopes on a Saturday Night Live appearance by Elon Musk, the cryptocurrency's self-anointed "Dogefather."

Dogecoin buyers are hanging their hopes on Saturday night.

Well, Saturday Night Live, to be exact. Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, SpaceX, and, sometimes, jokingly, Dogecoin, is set to appear on NBC’s comedy sketch show this weekend. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts and speculators are waiting with bated breath for the episode; they expect the on-and-off-again world’s richest man to mention the so-called meme-coin on air, potentially causing its price to move. That could mean lots of pain—or euphoria—for investors, and likely heaps of both, depending on which side of the trade one falls.

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Dogecoin buyers are hanging their hopes on Saturday night.

Well, Saturday Night Live, to be exact. Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, SpaceX, and, sometimes, jokingly, Dogecoin, is set to appear on NBC’s comedy sketch show this weekend. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts and speculators are waiting with bated breath for the episode; they expect the on-and-off-again world’s richest man to mention the so-called meme-coin on air, potentially causing its price to move. That could mean lots of pain—or euphoria—for investors, and likely heaps of both, depending on which side of the trade one falls.

Dogecoin is a funny-money cryptocurrency whipped up on a whim in 2013 by programmers who have since abandoned the project. The price of the Shiba Inu dog-inspired Bitcoin-knockoff has rocketed 13,500% to roughly $0.60 per coin since the beginning of the year, as my colleague Lance Lambert has chronicled. The froth has attracted interest from—and been propelled by—an odd assortment of celebrities in recent months, from the owner of the Mavericks NBA team Mark Cuban to foodie Guy Fieri to rapper Lil Yachty.

Musk has delighted in fanning the flames of the mania, tweeting jokes about Dogecoin for months—years even. If Musk’s tweets have been red meat for ravenous $DOGE fans, then his April 28 post about his upcoming SNL appearance could be considered, for a certain kind of speculator, the finest slab of Wagyu beef. He wrote, enticingly: “The Dogefather SNL May 8.”

Goaded a few days later by a fan to do “Summin about The DOGEFATHER” for an SNL skit, Musk replied, “Definitely.”

Dogecoin is benefiting from a perfect storm. A new generation of day traders—steeped in irreverent Internet culture and freshly stocked with free stimulus money—is piling onto the joke in hopes of easy returns. A combination of pandemic lockdown-induced boredom, zooming cryptocurrency prices, and retail-driven GameStop stock run has poured fuel onto the fire.

There’s no question Musk’s upcoming SNL gig is feeding the Doge frenzy. Online forums are brimming with anticipation about his guest appearance. Many instigators on Reddit, Twitter, and elsewhere are calling for their peers to drive the price up to $1 per coin, and to hold the line once it reaches that milestone. “DOGE might dip because of the SNL hype,” warns one Redditor, who goes by the alias Soggy_Substance4352. “If this happens, do not panic sell like I did. Just HOLD and have faith that it will rise again as it has multiple times in the past.”

The calls for solidarity are interspersed with stories of people who have already cashed out. One person claimed to reap a quick 30% profit. Another person implied that Doge-trading enabled her to splurge on the purchase of a bedframe. Others commiserated about plans to pay down credit card debt. “It’s held me back from my goals for years, I’ve cried over it but have been slowly chipping away,” someone said. “Exact same situation. Hold strong brother/sister,” consoled another.

If enough people sell their Doge, the price will collapse in a hurry. But the allure of a get-rich-quick opportunity, however risky, continues to lure possible latecomers to the party. “Just sold $25,000 worth of Bitcoin and bought Doge…oh baby!” announced BoosterBaby99 this week. “Lets’ go to the moon together!”

The SNL airing will provide a moment of truth for Dogecoin, not unlike the faux (and mostly fizzled) Doge Day holiday enthusiasts planned for April 20. In one telling post on the Dogecoin subreddit, someone uploaded a video of Musk being swarmed by masked fans on the streets of New York City on Thursday. They shout that they’re excited for his SNL appearance.

“What do you guys think I should do?” Musk asks the crowd, to which a chorus of “Doge!” erupts. “Is Doge your number one choice?” Musk replies. They holler: “Yeah!” “Yes!” “For sure!”

As Musk signs people’s autographs, thrust toward his face, he smirks. “We’ll see,” he says, clearly amused. For many watchers there will be laughs and smirks and amusement, too.

For unlucky others, there will be bruises.

Robert H. Hackett

@rhhackett

robert.hackett@fortune.com

DECENTRALIZED NEWS

Credits 🚀

Coinbase makes it easier to buy crypto using PayPal … Ethereum’s price keeps on rocketingBinance CEO explains why … Could ether hit $5,000? This guys thinks so … DeFi could eat banksBitcoin bulls stampede Berkshire Hathaway … Bitcoin is coming to “hundreds of U.S. banks this year” … And the cryptocurrency’s “taprootupgrade is underway … Eco-friendly Bitcoin alternative Chia debutsAndreessen Horowitz, Pantera, and Multicoin, are raising new crypto funds … Mexican Bitcoin exchange Bitso becomes a crypto “unicorn”Galaxy Digital is buying crypto custodian BitGo for $1.2 billionGrayscale makes as much revenue on its two crypto trusts as Vanguard does on its 82 ETFs … $1 Dogecoin looks inevitable now … U.S. Digital Dollar project plans 5 pilots this yearElon Musk is making ridiculous amounts of money … As mentioned above, he will also be hosting SNL on Saturday.

Debits 🐻

Some people are upset about Musk making ridiculous amounts of money … Also, some people are upset about him hosting SNLEurope faces recessionChina extends tech crackdown beyond AntNew York bill calls for moratorium on bitcoin miningFacebook oversight board passes the buck on Trump ban decision … And the Internet has thoughts about itEpic CEO slams Apple as trial over App Store fees kicks off … Stock-crier Jim Cramer sold Ethereum to buy a HummerRobinhood conked out while Dogecoin took off … Is Guy Fieri to blame? … Coinbase slumpsChime isn’t a bank … Carol Baskin of Tiger King is launching a cat-themed cryptoGoldman Sachs is sending people back to the officeIndia’s central bank is giving the economy a shot in the arm as COVID cases surge.

FOMO NO MO

They suspected that he was British, that he was Yakuza, that he laundered money. They wondered if he was a woman, laid claim just in case and joked about fucking him. They kept contingencies for if he proved crazy, eyed for shifts in his sleep, debated why he spoke and didn’t speak and sent him eager patches signed with pretty please.

To be sure, by the waning days of 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto was still acknowledged for inventing Bitcoin, and was respected for growing the world’s first decentralized digital currency into a $1 million market. But as frustrations with his authority and availability built, it became all too common for users to decry Satoshi the admin, Satoshi the bottleneck, Satoshi the dictator.

If it can be said a quiet clamour against Bitcoin’s creator had been simmering since summer, it soon became something of an outcry.

The mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity has long captivated cryptocurrency enthusiasts, and the siren song of solving it has lured many a journalist into disaster. Last week Pete Rizzo, an editor at both Bitcoin Magazine and the Kraken crypto exchange, published one of the most thoroughly researched and rigorous overviews of Satoshi’s time helming Bitcoin—with a special emphasis on the pseudonymous inventor’s last days. The only chronicling that compares is Nathanial Popper’s Digital Gold

Rizzo undertook a lot of archival investigation: Half a year’s worth of research. The story “includes over 120 citations where readers can see the full context of the conversation around some of Bitcoin’s infamous moments, including a notable meeting at CIA headquarters and the first transition of power in the project,” he writes in Forbes. The most surprising element of the findings, for me, was the realization that mutiny was brewing in the ranks of Bitcoin’s core developers at the time Satoshi decided to disappear. He knew when to bow out, apparently.

Read the whole story here.

BUBBLE-O-METER

$7.8 million

Bitcoin continues its march onto corporate balance sheets. The above sum is how much of the cryptocurrency Mercado Libre bought during its most recent fiscal quarter, ended March 31, 2020. The Buenos Aires-based financial tech, or fintech, company disclosed in a filing that it made the purchase “as part of our treasury strategy.”

You may remember Mercado Libre‘s payments division, Mercado Pago, was one of the initial partners that signed on to Facebook’s crypto-focused Libra Association in 2019. Like many others, it dropped out of the group—since renamed Diem—in October of that year.

Mercado’s home base, Argentina, is known to suffer periodic and painful bouts of high inflation. No wonder the company is interested in bitcoin—likely as a possible inflation hedge. (It is probably not a coincidence that some of the earliest and most vocal bitcoin proponents in Silicon Valley—from Xapo CEO Wences Casares to Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong—either hailed from or spent formative time in Argentina.) 

Mercado’s bitcoin holdings still don’t hold a candle to Microstrategy or Tesla, which retained $5.2 billion and $2.5 billion worth on their balance sheets, respectively, at last count. Some of the other biggest corporate bitcoin holders include Square ($460 million), Marathon Digital Holdings ($300 million), and Coinbase ($260 million).

Who will undergo conversion next?

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(Some of these stories require a subscription to access. Thank you for supporting our journalism.)

MEMES AND MUMBLES

Interested in joining Fortune‘s The Ledger as a writer? We could use another pair of (diamond) hands. Contact robert.hackett@fortune.com.