Jed Rawson has reached an unescapable conclusion. “I’m pretty sure it’s the greatest accumulation of wealth in my family going back 500 years in my family tree,” Rawson, 38, declares. “My dad was a teacher, I’m one of seven kids. And if you do go back 500 years, it’s all sock-knitters and coal miners in England.” He says this with one eye on the climbing price of Dogecoin—nearing a total market cap of around $50 billion, up more than sixfold in two weeks—and the other on R/Dogecoin, the Reddit community devoted to this latest fad in cryptocurrency.
Rawson has become a star on R/Dogecoin, where he has posted daily screenshots of his Robinhood brokerage account. On Monday, it totaled well over $700,000, some 1.7 million Dogecoins. “One guy on Reddit today called me the DFV of Dogecoin,” he says proudly. He’s alluding, elliptically, to the Redditor known as Deep F—king Value, or DFV, who helped spark the months-long run on GameStop shares. “I’ve been riding this wave, and it’s been pretty wild,” says Rawson, who runs his own e-commerce consultancy in San Diego during his spare time away from Dogecoin.
Wild may be something of an understatement. Dogecoin is today the sixth most valuable cryptocurrency, an all-time high for what was originally conceived eight years ago as a meta joke about monetary value and the internet, its mascot a Shiba Inu, an oft-memed dog breed. The token’s price has increased from about 6 cents two weeks ago to over 40 cents, and its low price per coin has surely contributed its rise, allowing investors who might be unable to afford more expensive cryptos such as Bitcoin or Ether to buy up Dogecoins. Purchasing Dogecoins is a bet they could become a permanently viable currency—and an unquestionable gamble given the frequent fluctuations in value across crypto, including industry-leading Bitcoin.
As more people wager on Dogecoin, R/Dogecoin is experiencing a spike in popularity, too, with the Reddit forum emerging as the latest virtual epicenter of a financial mania. It now has over 1.5 million members, a 25% increase in about a week, and bears an increasingly close resemblance to R/WallStreetBets, the group on Reddit that played such an active role in the GameStop mania in late January.
Back then, it was hard to know precisely how much GameStop trading came from R/WallStreetBets. And it’s pretty much impossible to pinpoint exactly which Dogecoin trades originate from R/Dogecoin, since these are mostly anonymous social media users buying and selling digital tokens designed to obscure their holders’ identities.
Nonetheless the Reddit communities and the assets seem to have interlinked relationships—self-inforcing feedback loops. As Dogecoin prices keep going up, it sparks greater conversation and interest on the Reddit forum, driving more investment in the crypto…which then helps push up prices further, repeating the cycle.
“That’s gotta be happening—at least to some extent,” says Tanner Sims, a 22-year-old R/Dogecoin member. “That’s where a lot of people are finding out about Dogecoin, and it’s kind of where everyone is in it together.”
Like many on R/Dogecoin, Sims is a relative newcomer to the group, which has existed as long as the currency it revolves around. He found it back in July while doing some research on potential crypto investments—Sims helps manages his family’s hotel near Big Sur, California, and plans to return to school and study finance at Texas Tech come fall.
To start last summer, “I had $20 to spare,” he says, “so I threw it in,” buying up around 500 Dogecoins. “I started looking more at Reddit and what people were thinking. Then just throughout the past few months, I’ve been putting a lot of my paycheck toward it.” And like many on R/Dogecoin, he had an unshakeable belief. “I knew it was gonna go up at some point.”
Sims and the rest of R/Dogecoin have spent a great deal of time thinking about and discussing Elon Musk. The world’s second-richest person has tweeted positively about Dogecoin nearly a dozen times in the last four months and voiced support for it while speaking on the new audio-chat app Clubhouse: “Dogecoin was made as a joke to make fun of cryptocurrencies, but fate loves irony. The most ironic outcome would be that Dogecoin becomes the currency of Earth in the future.” R/Dogecoin has come to see Musk’s interest as the highest form of validation possible. “The backing from Elon Musk has been a huge thing,” says Sim, whose Dogecoin stake rests around $16,000. “It gave me a lot of confidence.”
🎶 Who let the Doge out 🎶
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2021
Is this a Picasso?
— The Chairman (@WSBChairman) April 15, 2021
Doge meme shield (legendary item) pic.twitter.com/CeomU9q84c
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2021
When not talking about Musk, the Reddit community has, unsurprisingly, tended to obsess over the latest price increase and guesses about where the coin could top out. Its recent level of 42 cents drew a thundering round of applause on the message board, partly because someone drew a reference to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a sci-fi series where 42 is said to be the answer to everything in the universe. And partly because the Redditors had already declared April 20—or 4-20—as Doge Day, an attempt to co-opt the long-standing subversive holiday dedicated to marijuana culture and weed, which, like cryptocurrency, has spent many years being frowned upon by mainstream culture.
One of the most popular posts of the past month garnered 23,300 “upvotes,” the Reddit equivalent of Facebook likes, thanks to a personal short story and an accompanying GIF meme. They were the handiwork of Toben Blalock, 48, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who six years ago used a different Reddit forum to swap his Xbox for 1.15 million Dogecoins and currently has close to $200,000 worth of the tokens after actively trading them since 2015. His told this tale in the post and included a bit of self-deprecating humor: an animated video clip of a dog in an astronaut’s suit floating around a space station, the words “I have no idea what I’m doing” below the weightless canine.
These days Blalock worries too many on R/Dogecoin truly have no idea what they’re doing as they pile into crypto with digitally driven euphoria. “Those coins are a great thing to kind of play around with it,” he says. “But a lot of people are investing their life savings. And I think that’s a terrible idea right now.”