Dogecoin (pronounced douj/dohj) is the hottest cryptocurrency in the world at the moment. In the last few weeks, the coin has seen its value rise 150X to push a valuation of nearly $90 billion. To put this figure in context, it is worth as much as the top ten highest-valued startups in India combined.

And it started as a joke. A joke about a meme.

In 2013, two developers, Jackson Palmer, then an employee in Adobe Systems, and Billy Markus, then a software engineer at IBM, forked a cryptocurrency cryptocurrency A decentralised and permissionless digital currency built on blockchain, which is a digital ledger of transactions maintained by a community of users. It is called a blockchain because new transactions are bundled into “blocks” of data and written onto the end of a “chain” of existing blocks that describe all prior transactions. called Litecoin and branded it after the trendy and viral Doge meme. The meme involved a mystified Shiba Inu captioned with crayon-coloured text in Comic Sans font, representing the dog’s inner monologue in a distinctive “urban speak” lingo.

The original Doge meme

The creators of Dogecoin had no delusions of grandeur or fierce ambitions. The whole exercise was meant to be a joke satirising the growth of crypto by converting a popular social media meme into a cryptocurrency. Markus told Newsweek that he created it in just a couple of hours using freely available open-source code.

The Dogecoin joke evoked a few laughs on social networks and earned a page on social media forum Reddit. But like everything else in the age of social media, people moved on as did the creators. The “project” was largely forgotten. There was no serious development, no support, and little acceptance. At some point in time, the creators cashed out their entire holding to buy a second-hand Honda car.

As of last week, Doge’s $90 billion valuation is more than the value of the entire Honda company. What happened to trigger this rise?

The one-word answer: Elon Musk.

The talismanic founder of Tesla and SpaceX is generally acknowledged as a creative genius and the second richest man in the world. But there is another facet to his personality that is often overlooked.

Elon Musk is also one of the most influential personalities on social media. His Twitter account has nearly 55 million followers and is in the top 20 most-followed accounts globally.

In December 2020, Musk tweeted about Doge with a cryptic one-word tweet: “Doge”. While there was some attention drawn to Doge after this tweet, most people dismissed it as an attempt at humour and didn’t take it seriously.

AUTHOR

Sumanth Raghavendra

Sumanth is a serial entrepreneur with more than eighteen years experience in running startups. He is currently the founder of Deck App Technologies, a Bangalore-based startup attempting to re-imagine productivity software for the Post-PC era. Sumanth’s columns appear regularly in leading publications. He holds MBA degrees from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, USA.

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