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 instigatorson 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.
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.
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.
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 renamedDiem—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).