Ask Doctor Bitcoin: Is Dogecoin having its moment? [Paid, #6]
Dogecoin is delighting its hodlers and advocates, and frustrating its detractors. We look back on its history and to help grok it's future this week.
Of the many interesting brands that have co-opted the date “4/20” as their “national day of recognition,” one must admit that the most appropriate has been Dogecoin. Given it’s meteoric rise this week and in honor of DogeDay, ADB’s focusing primarily on Dogecoin.
I had originally planned to plod through the history of Dogecoin in my normally semi-didactic method of happening upon key concepts, but instead I opted for just having Tina tell her front row seat view of Dogecoin.
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Coinbase marks its IPO with memo on the Bitcoin blockchain
Coinbase Inc. (COIN) marked its public listing on Nasdaq by posting a memo on the Bitcoin blockchain on April 14 mirroring the one published by Satoshi Nakamoto in the Genesis block.
The embedded message refers to a New York Times headline published March 10, 2021 which reads: “NYTimes 10/Mar/2021 House Gives Final Approval to Biden’s $1.9T Pandemic Relief Bill.”
Coinbase looked to F2Pool, a multicoin mining pool, to encode the message on block 679,187 of the Bitcoin blockchain, which is the first block mined after Coinbase was listed on the Nasdaq stock market.
Upon its IPO and debut, Nasdaq set its reference price at $250 a share, which valued the company at $65 billion; Coinbase closed at $328.28 per share that evening, an estimated value of $85.8 billion according to an article from CNBC.
Hype pushes Dogecoin to new all-time-high of 43 cents
Everyone’s favorite spoof Shiba Inu coin, Dogecoin, reached a new all-time high of 43 cents on April 16 after a week filled with hype as the long-time meme coin continued to rise in value.
The price of Dogecoin has been seeing a lot of attention in the past week, especially with ever-increasing news across the entire cryptocurrency space with the run-up to the Coinbase IPO, a tweet from Elon Musk, and a social media campaign from Slim Jim involving Dogecoin.
Dogecoin started off Monday, April 12 morning at .07 USD and then quickly rose to .10 USD by the evening of April 13. Two days later, the currency would zoom upwards to .29 USD and the next day it would skyrocket even higher to peak yet again at .43 USD.
As of Friday, April 16, volatility remains for Dogecoin remains high for the currency. Media attention and social media speculation will continue to drive more people to its market and to crypto in general.
In fact, the frenzy caused crypto trading on Robinhood, an American financial company, to go down during the week as people rushed to trade on the platform, but RH engineers quickly got the system under control.
Blockchain Behind the Scenes
CaseMail certified by USPS as first blockchain generated ePostage
CaseMail, a communications-as-a-service company owned by VeriTus Corp., announced April 14, that it has become the first producer of blockchain generated ePostage labels certified by the United States Postal Service.
The USPS ePostage labels will use CaseMail’s non-fungible mail technology to and support postage for sending parcels through the US mail.
“It's fitting that the USPS, a historic institution that served as a vanguard during the founding of our country, is at the forefront of this revolution in communications and commerce,” said Joe Ruiz, founder and CEO of CaseMail. “CaseMail's USPS-certified blockchain postage provides additional credibility to the debate about the future of NFTs and the wider adoption of blockchain into everyday life.”
This initial rollout will be exclusive for legal professionals and government agencies exclusively. Cryptocurrencies are not required for access to the ePostage capability. CaseMail tokens can be purchased with standard US currency.
CaseMail believes this use case shows that USPS certification of its technology shows that NFT blockchain ePostage labeling highlights the practical, real-world application of blockchain technology. CaseMail tokens can be used to digitally stamp on USPS ePostage labels and items being mailed. As a result, all data about the shipment and mailing history can be recorded alongside the blockchain, creating a verifiable chain of custody between digital and physical assets.
"Using NFTs to help protect a process that's both familiar and important to everyone – mailing a letter or package – helps demystify this important new technology,” added Ruiz. “It is simply postage printed from the blockchain."
Ethereum blockchain developer ConsenSys raises $65M in funding
ConsenSys, Ethereum blockchain hub operation headquartered in Brooklyn New York, raised $65 million from JPMorgan, Mastercard, and UBS as well as other decentralized finance industry investment leaders on April 13.
“ConsenSys’ software stack represents access to a new automated objective trust foundation enabled by decentralized protocols like Ethereum,” said ConsenSys founder and Ethereum co-founder, Joseph Lubin.
According to Lubin, Ethereum and blockchain technologies are on the verge of what he calls a “convergence” event, where networks are building tools to better scale and provide access to things such as Ethereum 2.0.
ConsenSys will provide also provide access to Ethereum-adjacent protocols like Filecoin and support Layer 2 Ethereum networks through its suite of products. These include MetaMask, Diligence, Codefi, Truffle, Infura, and Quorum, which it acquired from JPMorgan following a partnership in late 2020.
Blockchain Deepdive: An Interview with Dogecon Founder Tina Hui
Dogecoin has had an incredible rally this year. When I sat to write this intro, the price has more than doubled in the last 14 hours, from $.17 to $.38, which caps off almost a quarter of explosive price action and almost two full years of sideways price action. On Monday and Tuesday, there were significant dips across all markets, but Dogecoin somehow maintained it’s price floor above $.34 for most of the day! Today the price sits slightly below that, affected by many of the same blues the rest of the market seems afflicted by.
Aside from having a good year price-wise, Dogecoin has had an intriguing history, and despite how it sounds to say, has the fortunate distinction to be called a complete joke, since inception.
As the story goes, Jackson Palmer created in response to the reception a 2013 throwaway tweet of his: “Investing in Dogecoin, pretty sure it's the next big thing,” with the joke being that crypto, and how serious people were taking it (juxtaposed to the meme of the moment, silly baby-speaking shiba inu dogs). A couple copy+pastes of the Litecoin core code later, and the meme took on a life of its own as a tipping mechanism on reddit so successful that the logo showed up on NASCAR cars and sponsored Olympic Jamaican bobsled teams.
As with all fascinating origin stories, there’s some truth to all that, but the details are more interesting to those truly interested in the space.
In actuality, while Jackson Palmer may have given a name to the coin, much of the actual work was done by an IBM engineer named Billy Markus. He had been working in and around the cryptocurrency space avocationally, and happened to catch the aforementioned tweet from the Adobe-employed Palmer. Palmer was (and is) a career marketer for Adobe, and when he saw the reception the tweet was getting, also registered Dogecoin.com. Markus reached out to him and offered to make it a reality.
This may make it sound as if all the technical heavy lifting was on Markus’s part. Not to denigrate the value of an active technical co-founder like Markus in a project like Dogecoin, but the actual launch of a coin (especially in 2013) was not a difficult technical feat. There existed “launch your own crypto” sites at the time where you could plug in a name, logo, and tokenomics, and they’d spit back at you a QT wallet with which to launch a coin.
Still, Markus did more work than the typical shitcoin of the day, taking care to not release the wallet until it was customized to spec, including launching the default font in the wallet with Comic Sans. It was a perfectly crafted joke that landed at exactly the right time time to take the world by storm.
Once it was launched, the joke immediately landed, and arguably changed the world. One of my very close friends in tech and crypto is Tina Hui, who happens to be the founder of Dogecon, the biggest Dogecoin conference. Hui gave me insight on the early days of the Dogecoin.
“Dogecoin’s community, playful memes and events were the most positive wonderful uplifting movements and marketing in crypto,” said Hui. “We used to say that Dogecoin is the marketing engine for Bitcoin, and I think there’s still truth to that.”
I spoke to my friend Tina this week to expand on my general research, and she provided me color commentary in spades.
Hui first heard about cryptocurrencies in 2010, just shortly before the now-famous “Bitcoin Pizza Day,” the day when Laszlo Hanyecz bought 2 pizzas for around 10,000 BTC (or roughly $40 at the time).
“I think for many back in those days and this is true even today, there is a bit of a learning period when you start down the interwoven complex rabbit hole of diving into what Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Litecoin is, how they are similar and different, how their mined, valued or used,” Hui said. “That's the fun of a pioneering environment, folks get creative and you can make things up.”
Fast forward to May 22, 2013, everyone was ordering pizza at their office and Twitter was abuzz and so was the news about The Bitcoin Pizza Day That's Worth $7 Million Today" and there among all the hype and almost at the end of any tweet about bitcoin, dogecoin or litecoin was the doge meme “To the Moon!!!!” By summer, it seemed like Doge and the catch phrase was all over the internet and Reddit almost overnight. Doge, the memes, and the enthusiastic growing community were cute, playful, good-humored, supportive and the energy contagious.
“To the moon!!”
Looking back, in those days the Bitcoin and Dogecoin subreddit were jovial, competitive in a friendly way, innovative, uplifting, motivating each other, and very fun. It was a time when everyone wanted people to learn about, spend, get excited about and innovate with Bitcoin.
As Andreas Antonopolous is famous for sharing " "Without spending, BTC wouldn't have become what it is today," and Dogecoin got a lot of people excited about Bitcoin.
Tina and I had met several times over the years, but she re-emerged on my radar around this time when she was working on a transmedia project called “Follow the Coin,” which served as a vehicle for her and her co-founders to explain their journey into crypto, including a YouTube show and blogging their interviews with community organizers and projects (like building a dogecoin miner). The Dogecon organizing grew out of the associations built along the way of running Follow the Coin.
In 2014, Tina interviewed Andreas Antonopolous and Jackson Palmer covering a conference for Follow the Coin. Not long after, Antonopolous said he was going to be in San Francisco for an interview. Hui reached out to the Dogecoin Foundation and Andreas if they might be interested in co-hosting a meetup to celebrate Dogecoin's progress.
“That email and chat thread is still fun to look back on,” said Hui. “In the next two hours, they kept coming back with speakers who wanted to speak every 20 minutes, which I kept adding them to a lineup. By the fourth panel, I realized we were no longer hosting a meetup but had enough content for a full event with Andreas Antonopolous sharing he'd be open to sharing a talk.”
This was the genesis of Dogecon.
“Dogecon was so much fun to throw for the peer supportive, learning, growth-minded, open-hearted, innovation community that was Dogecoin,” said Hui. “I took a pause to brainstorm an event lineup with Andreas presenting first.”
She had one major stipulation for the emergent festival: keep the event true to the ethos of Doge, light-hearted and fun.
“We decided to do something different and throw an event that was part-party, part-concert style, part-educational industry content,” said Hui. “And the next thing you know, I was in full planning mode for an event!”
Despite the chaotic beginnings, Hui and her team were able to come up with a sponsored event replete with DJs and a well appointed venue courtesy of Auttomatic (of WordPress fame). She attributes the success in short order to the good will and helpfulness of the Doge community in those days as much as anything else. The day of the event, of the 3,000 or so registered attendees, around 90% attended through a combination of virtual and physical attendance.
Fast Forward to 4/20/21, Present-Day “Doge Day.”
Jackson Palmer has famously said in several interviews that he left the Dogecoin community in 2015 because it had become “toxic” and “rife with scams.”
“I’d definitely agree that Doge is definitely prone to scams as much as any other crypto, money or object of value,” said Hui. “The reality is (and was) heartbreaking for all of us who had hoped for some ideal scenario where all of the progress and innovation could have been a consistently positive and meaningful ‘TO THE MOON’ in some way. Maybe that's true for many movements and realities.”
Many of longtime bitcoiners have similarly moved on to other projects and sectors, or have retreated from the culture for this reason, Tina told me. She also said that it was a major motivation for her to pull back from Follow the Coin.
“That whole Moolah saga was a painful punch to the stomach of a realization that there are definitely bad actors out there,” said Hui. “Their true colors came to light when the SEC started sending letters to inquire about the legitimacy of many organizations. There were a few of us that were left shocked that someone could opportunistically manipulate a community's good intentions.”
Vice Magazine called Moolah’s founder Alex Green “the guy who ruined Dogecoin.” The story is fairly well documented elsewhere, but in short, Moolah was a reddit-based tipbot dealing primarily in doge. In the end, the founders turned out to be serial scammers who openly admitted to raiding customer funds in an attempt to support operational costs.
And this is the tone under which doge languished up until the most recent bull run. Certainly there is a good core group that maintains the flag of joyful crypto-evangelism, but the primary usage of Doge gradually became as a betting token for online casinos. The ethos of the token eventually became homogenized with the rest of the things that are “not bitcoin” on cryptotwitter. Most ETH maxis refer to Doge as “another memecoin, like Bitcoin.”
But that faithful core group keeping the faith is likely what caught the eye of Elon Musk when he first tweeted about it in April of 2019. Those that follow the cult of Elon wound up returning to the Doge party, up through today, where arguably Elon has done his best, in his own way, to revive what Hui, Palmer, Markus and “ToTheMoonGuy” all wanted all along...