Excerpt from Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain by David Gerard. Join the mailing list for updates!
Dogecoin (pronounced “dozhe-coin” or “dogue-coin”) started in December 2013, originally as a joke based on the “Doge” Shiba Inu Internet meme. The idea was mostly to have some fun with cryptocurrency cheap enough to mess around with; and who knows, maybe we’ll all get rich!
Dogecoiners (“shibes”), gathering on Reddit /r/dogecoin, still dreamt of a cryptocurrency payday – but they made an explicit point of being nicer as a community than Bitcoin advocates, who had quite a reputation by this stage.
Dogecoin got caught up in the hype of the Bitcoin bubble and quickly gained in price, peaking in January 2014 at 0.17 of a cent per DOGE, despite almost no use cases (some used it to tip other Reddit commenters) and not being exchangeable for anything but bitcoins. The Dogecoin Foundation, started by Ben Doernberg and the coin’s creator Jackson Palmer, raised nearly $30,000 of Dogecoins in January to send the Jamaican bobsled team to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Doge4Water raised $32,000 for clean water in Kenya.
This attracted the attention of a fellow calling himself Alex Green. “My name is Alex Green. I have zero online footprint.” He quickly set up UK cryptocurrency exchange Moolah. While others tipped single Dogecoins, worth a fraction of a penny, Green caught attention with tips of thousands of dollars.
Dogecoin then raised $50,000 to sponsor a NASCAR racer, Josh Wise. (Green put in $15,000 himself.) Wise’s race in May 2014 was probably the media peak for Dogecoin.
Green started fundraisers on /r/dogecoin for shares in Moolah, and never mind those fiddly regulations about promoting securities to the general public. By mid-June, he had raised over half a million dollars. He had also pushed most of the original Dogecoin crowd into leaving, repeatedly threatening to sue Palmer and Doernberg for harassment for questioning his use of /r/dogecoin to push unregistered securities.
Palmer and Doernberg correctly smelt a rat. It came out that “Green” was formerly known as Ryan Kennedy, Ryan Gentle, Ryan Francis and multiple other names, with a long history of creating scam startups that raised funds and then vanished.1 Moolah shut down in October and “Green” disappeared with the money.
Moolah had taken over cryptocurrency exchange Mintpal in July 2014. That exchange shut down with Moolah in October after a “hack”. Kennedy was caught selling the Mintpal bitcoins on LocalBitcoins in February 2015.2
As well as a serial scammer, Kennedy turned out to be a serial rapist, convicted in May 2016 of three counts of rape3 and jailed for 11 years. He was also charged over the stolen Mintpal bitcoins in June 2017.4
With Green/Kennedy no longer in the picture, /r/dogecoin recovered its spirit somewhat, refused to worry about prices any more and is back to just having fun, though with wistful dreams of crypto riches. Unlike other cryptocurrencies’ claims about their prices, Dogecoin may succeed in going “to the moon!” – the community sponsored sending a physical Dogecoin on an Astrobotic commercial moon shot.5
It came out in May 2017 that the operator of the Dogecoin tipping bot on Reddit had stolen all the deposited Dogecoins two years earlier.6 Much sorry, many loss.
1 Clay Michael Gillespie. “Dogecoin Leaders Present Evidence that CEO of Troubled Bitcoin Exchange Moolah Is Long-Time Scammer”. CryptoCoinsNews, 16 October 2014.
2 Duncan Riley. “Mintpal scammer Ryan Kennedy arrested in U.K. over theft of 3,700 Bitcoins”. SiliconAngle, 23 February 2015.
3 “Ryan Kennedy convicted of three counts of rape against three women”. Crown Prosecution Service (press release), 26 May 2016.
5 Joseph Frusetta (sporadicallyjoe). “DogecoinOnTheMoon: We’re going to reach the lunar surface next year!” Reddit /r/dogecoin, 3 August 2016.
6 Mohland. “[Important] I’m taking dogetipbot to a server farm upstate”. Reddit /r/dogecoin, 8 May 2017.