Vitalik is wrong: Crypto really needs dumb memecoins

Crypto needs memecoins far more than most are prepared to admit


Iggy Azalea | A.PAES/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


If you’re a celebrity, Bored Ape Yacht Club is out — and memecoins are in.

BAYC was arguably the most successful project to find traction with the mainstream. But they’re passé these days, as shown by flatlining floor prices.

Meanwhile, celebrity memecoins have found crossover appeal, something most cryptocurrencies don’t really have. 

The idea that memecoins are devoid of utility is shortsighted. Memecoins are critical benchmarking software for blockchains — placeholders for “real” economic activity that might eventually come once more of traditional finance ports over to blockchain rails. For that to happen, those rails must be able to handle more than a few hundred thousand people trading memecoins with silly names at the same time.

And at this point, siding against the memecoin discourse risks misunderstanding some of the most engaged people in crypto today, even if they’re more responsive to absurd and pointless projects.

The celebs are just meeting crypto where it is right now: fast DEXs, cheap blockchains, gambling apps, Twitter, Telegram and Discord. 

Without pearlclutching, it’s hard to find much fault in that.

So it really isn’t cringe that Iggy Azalea or Caitlyn Jenner have their own memecoins. At least, not in the same way that Katy Perry’s CrYpTo ClAwS were, or Kim Kardashian’s unfortunate Instagram ads for SafeMoon clone EthereumMAX, or even Randi Zuckerberg’s painful WAGMI music video.

Those stunts felt far more “how do you do, fellow kids” than anything Jenner or Azalea’s camp have done. 

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Is it tasteless? Sure. But for the regular crypto fan, this looks about right

Where countless memecoins have pumped, dumped and flatlined — the classic rug pull trajectory — Caitlyn Jenner’s Ethereum memecoin is chugging along.

It even flipped her original memecoin on Solana. Jenner launched the Ethereum version only a few days after the Solana one. Solana JENNER had just peaked at over $30 million market cap after a 1,000%-plus rally.

Supposedly, Jenner’s camp had been swindled by an alleged serial memecoin fixer, and the Solana-version of the coin should have never been endorsed. That made the Solana token — which was now rapidly losing value — an unofficial dud.

Read more from our opinion section: The most important trend in crypto? It’s always been memecoins

To help boost interest in the newer token, Jenner pledged to direct a 3% transaction tax on the new Ethereum-based JENNER to the Trump campaign, should it reach a $50 million market cap (current value: $5.8 million compared to the original’s $3.6 million).

Tens of thousands of addresses hold the current suite of celebrity memecoins. But to be clear, these are not big cryptocurrencies. Memecoins overall — including majors like dogecoin and floki — have over a $52 billion market cap, but still make up less than 5% of the crypto market, excluding bitcoin.

Jenner’s two tokens, alongside Iggy Azalea’s MOTHER and Andrew Tate-endorsed DADDY, make up less than 1% of the total memecoin market. 

Memecoins are fodder for grumpy takes, even from Vitalik, who has rules about what celebrity involvement in crypto should look like (mostly, they should be long-term public goods). Or, memecoins make crypto look immature, and are extractive in a way that detracts from investment in more legitimate, technologically-sound projects with venture capital backing.

Toggle log view on the chart, otherwise MOTHER and DADDY completely dwarfs the others, including Waka Flocka’s memecoin, which debuted overnight

For true believers, crypto means everything, from the greatest value transfer in history to the solarpunk revolution and an anarcho-capitalist coup. 

But crypto also means nothing. It’s agnostic. A free-for-all. It’s what we do with the technology that gives it meaning. 

Without overintellectualizing the warm, fuzzy community feeling attached to buying and selling memecoins alongside internet strangers, memecoins do have technological utility: They stress-test blockchains in a way that few token classes have ever done.

NFT game CryptoKitties taught us that Ethereum needs to scale with layer-2s. Ordinals showed us that practically any EVM chain can be easily overwhelmed by sudden popularity, and memecoin mania proved that Solana’s transaction routing really needs work.

So welcome to the new celebrity crypto meta. These celebs may not realize it, but how they’re embracing the joys of memecoin launches might actually be giving crypto the right kind of boost to improve the infrastructure in the long run.

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