The cryptocurrency that started out as a parody less than a decade ago has been on a wild ride this year as individual investors have piled in. Dogecoin, which traded at less than 1 cent to start the year, briefly jumped as high as 74 cents last month, according to CoinDesk, leading up to the “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut of Mr. Musk, the billionaire chief executive of electric-vehicle maker
on May 8.
At its peak, that gave the cryptocurrency a year-to-date gain of more than 15,000%, according to closing figures from CoinDesk, more than quadruple the gains on the S&P 500, including dividends, since 1988.
Since Mr. Musk’s SNL appearance, however, the cryptocurrency has fallen, recently trading on June 2 at about 42 cents, a roughly 43% fall from its record. Robinhood Markets Inc. tweeted during the SNL broadcast that it was “experiencing issues with crypto trading,” citing in a subsequent tweet “high trading volume and volatility.”
During Mr. Musk’s appearance on the show’s satirical news segment, Weekend Update, cast members
asked him several times to explain what dogecoin is. Finally, after Mr. Che asked, “So, it’s a hustle?”, Mr. Musk replied, laughing, “Yeah, it’s a hustle.”
So, what is dogecoin, how did we get here and why are people so excited about it? We’ve got answers to your questions.
First things first: How do you pronounce “dogecoin”?
According to the cryptocurrency’s co-founder,
the correct pronunciation is “dohj coin.” Some prefer to pronounce the first syllable like “dog” or “doggy.”
What is dogecoin?
Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency that started as a joke in 2013. It is a satirical homage to bitcoin, designed to serve no real purpose other than generating a few laughs.
It is named after an internet meme centered around the image of a Shiba Inu dog with bad spelling habits—thus “doge” instead of “dog.”
Why has dogecoin’s popularity exploded?
On Jan 28, Mr. Musk tweeted a faux “Dogue” magazine cover. It isn’t clear why or what caught his attention.
He has since continued to tweet about the cryptocurrency. Once, he shared a meme based on the movie “The Lion King,” with the Shiba Inu dog superimposed on Simba’s face. Another time, he wrote, “Who let the Doge out,” and “No highs, no lows, only Doge.” Perhaps in an effort to be helpful, he also tweeted what he described as an instructional video titled “D is for Dogecoin.”
Mr. Musk renewed his interest in the cryptocurrency in April, tweeting, “Doge Barking at the Moon.” And after SNL aired, he tweeted: “SpaceX launching satellite Doge-1 to the moon next year,” adding “Mission paid for in Doge,” as well as “1st crypto in space.”
His cryptic comments have prompted the cryptocurrency’s popularity to skyrocket, with musicians including rappers
Boy as well as Kiss frontman
sharing memes and tweets with their followers.
A mainstream consumer brand,
Conagra Brands Inc.’s
jerky snack Slim Jim, jumped on the dogecoin bandwagon, calling for it on April 13 to “go to the moon.” Other brands have also turned attention to dogecoin, with Mars Inc.’s Snickers brand tweeting “Maybe we should just #DogecoinToTheMoon” on May 3.
Dogecoin has become one of the top four cryptocurrencies by market value, according to Coinmarketcap.com. That puts it behind bitcoin, ether and binance coin.
Even with its fall, dogecoin’s market value of nearly $55 billion still exceeds that of
Kraft Heinz Co.
Dollar General Corp.
Fans of dogecoin online are rooting for it to reach $1.
What are the risks of investing in dogecoin?
Cryptocurrencies are volatile and prone to large swings in either direction.
Listen back to a Q&A with Wall Street Journal editors and reporters as they answered your questions about the crypto market.
Bitcoin, for instance, has skyrocketed this year and by April 16 was trading above $61,000, compared with less than $30,000 at the end of last year. But the cryptocurrency has been prone to pullbacks, including several times this year. It was trading at $37,358.68 on June 2.
Earlier this year, Tesla said it invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin and planned to start accepting the cryptocurrency as payment for its products.
Dogecoin could as easily lose 90% of its value, cautions
head of research at blockchain.com, a cryptocurrency transactions company. “I do worry about all the attention paid to a cryptocurrency that historically has not seen real-world traction and is a bit of a joke—literally,” he said.
How can I buy dogecoin?
Dogecoin can be bought with a credit card on cryptocurrency exchanges such as Bittrex Global GmbH and Payward Inc.’s Kraken, as well as trading platforms including the popular brokerage Robinhood Markets Inc.
In February, deVere Group said it added dogecoin to its crypto-trading app as demand surged because of what Chief Executive
called “The Elon Effect.” The online brokerage Webull Financial LLC added dogecoin to its Webull Crypto platform in April. And eToro said on May 3 that it had added dogecoin to its list of offered assets.
Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini followed, announcing in May that deposits and trading were available for dogecoin.
Can I buy dogecoin on Coinbase?
Coinbase on June 1 said it would allow users to trade the joke cryptocurrency on a platform geared toward more experienced investors.
Trading in dogecoin could begin on Coinbase Pro at noon ET on June 3, the company said, if customers transfer enough of their holdings of the digital asset to Coinbase to generate ample ability to buy and sell the tokens.
What happened recently with Robinhood and dogecoin?
Robinhood customers have experienced problems with cryptocurrency trading in recent weeks as demand for dogecoin has surged. In mid-April, the online brokerage tweeted that it was “experiencing issues with crypto trading” due to unprecedented volumes.
On May 4, Robinhood users reported having problems trading crypto on the platform again. A company spokeswoman said the matter was resolved in a little over an hour. The platform experienced issues with crypto trading again on May 9. They were later resolved.
Can I buy anything with dogecoin?
Most traditional online retailers don’t accept any cryptocurrency as a form of payment.
The folks behind website Shibe Mint sell copper tokens—stamped with a “D” and the year 2014—for $12 apiece. You can pay for these tokens with dogecoin, but they are currently sold out. You can also get your doge swag, such as a “doge dealer” T-shirt from dogeswag.com.
The Dallas Mavericks basketball team offers merchandise for sale in dogecoin. Mr. Cuban, the team’s owner, tweeted that it had set a 24-hour record in sales April 16. The Oakland A’s, the Major League Baseball team, announced recently that fans could buy tickets to its May 3-6 games with dogecoin.
Exchanges that trade dogecoin will also let you convert your cryptocurrency into traditional currencies.
Who invented dogecoin?
Developers Mr. Markus and
co-created dogecoin as a joke in 2013. Even the way people originally obtained the coin was meant to be ridiculous: In return for solving mathematical puzzles, dogecoin miners operating fast-running computers received anywhere from one dogecoin to hundreds of thousands of dogecoins.
Neither works on the project anymore, and Mr. Markus has said he sold all of his dogecoin in 2015. He made just enough from it to buy a used Honda Civic.
“The idea of dogecoin being worth 8 cents is the same as GameStop being worth $325,” Mr. Markus, 38 years old, said recently. “It doesn’t make sense. It’s super absurd. The coin design was absurd.”
Why is dogecoin so popular?
Some argue that it is yet another sign of the market madness that has seen surges in stocks touted on online forums.
Despite nearly a decade passing since its creation, dogecoin has remained beloved by a small community that has Photoshopped the dog’s furry face onto everything from astronauts to Twinkies. That community is now growing rapidly.
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