About a month ago, news of Dogecoin’s massive run up to over one billion in market cap reached my Facebook news feed. I had forgotten about the coin for over 4 years, since it first became popular in late 2013. I also had about $80 invested in it, and rushed to check if I was an overnight millionaire.
Unsurprisingly, my $80 investment did not turn into one million overnight, but I did end up finding my way to the Dogecoin subreddit for the first time in years.
For those who don’t know, the Dogecoin subreddit is known for two things: supporting charitable causes by crowdsourcing Dogecoin, and memes. Lovable, ridiculous memes that to this day I still struggle to explain to people. Dogecoin is based on a meme, after all, and I’m sure that most members of the Dogecoin community would agree; you either get it, or you don’t.
Most people don’t.
And that’s why, before reaching the subreddit, every article I read about Dogecoin’s meteoric rise took the tone that it was symbolic of the overinflation of the crypto market. How else could a “joke coin” ever reach a one billion dollar market cap?
Dogecoin redditors are not fickle. The majority of posts reflected a light-hearted disbelief, and an understanding that cryptos were in fact, in a bubble, and every coin was higher than it should be. But they were still bursting with excitement. And stickied at the top of the thread was an announcement for a video contest with a prize pool that was too big to be believable. 18 million Dogecoin (at the time, that was worth about $120,000 USD, and is still close to that now).
Check out the original contest thread here: https://www.reddit.com/r/dogecoin/comments/7kvpy7/video_contest_18_million_doge_to_celebrate_2018
The contest was being hosted by u/dogefreedom. Most people who haven’t heard of Dogecoin, haven’t heard of u/dogefreedom. But for those who have, they know him as the “Bill Gates” of Dogecoin, a mysterious, secretive redditor whose love for Dogecoin is only matched by his extremely deep pockets. He’s given countless tens of thousands to various charities over the years, and appears to be Dogecoin’s biggest financial titan. He also has been unusually silent for the last few years.
The contest parameters were exactly what you’d expect. Make a fun video about Dogecoin. Try to be positive. Reflect the Dogecoin community. Etc. What I found amusing at the time though, was u/dogefreedom’s insistance at getting attention. He mentioned getting on the news. He mentioned contest organizers retaining rights to all entries. He mentioned commercials.
There was no way a Dogecoin video was going to make headlines. That’s impossible. I may think Dogecoin memes are funny, and so may a very niche community on the internet, but there is no way even the best “wows” and “much” and “verys” in the world were going to find their way onto the news. Much less get shared on any kind of mainstream site or blog. I chuckled, closed the page, and forgot about the whole thing for a month.
And then, yesterday on Facebook, I saw this in my news feed:
And suddenly I realized I had to eat crow.
Doge memes exist solely in the darkest, most esoteric corners of the internet. They don’t belong on Facebook. But these were not the Doge memes I was used to. Tinder references? Misirlou? A cat? The jokes all land perfectly, no question, and they definitely have that unique Doge flavor. But there was something else about them. Something different. I’m almost afraid to say it. Was Doge becoming, mainstream?
I spent most of yesterday browsing the rest of the contest. U/dogefreedom has lit a fire under the Dogecoin community. The talent pool in his video contest is much deeper than I would have ever expected. Smartly edited live action work, calligraphy, parodies of major pieces of media. All of it could easily step foot out of the dark corners of the internet and directly in front of a wide audience.
Somehow, u/dogefreedom did something that even huge marketing firms and companies have struggled to do. He got the best out of a community, completely organically. And he did it with a single announcement.
I admit I, and possibly the rest of the internet, have seriously underestimated Dogecoin. U/dogefreedom’s return marks a shift for the community. As the contest comes to a close, I expect user rates to sore for the little coin, as they’ve already made quite a few big waves. I’ll be excited to see how the contest closes, but I have a feeling the best things for Dogecoin are yet to come.