Meme Coins Return to Earth as Gloom Overtakes Crypto Fanatics

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts who piled into meme coins such as Dogecoin and Shiba Inu amid the long-time industry rallying call of “to the moon” are finding this year’s journey back to earth pretty painful.

Dogecoin, Shiba Inu and other tokens associated more with online jokes rather than actual software products have been hit harder than sector originals Bitcoin or Ethereum during the recent retreat from the record price levels reached late last year. Doge is off nearly 80% from its all-time high of 74 cents in May, and Shiba has declined more than 65% since hitting its peak of fractions of a penny in late October, according to data compiled by Messari.

Trading volumes have fallen off, now measured in millions instead of billions. And the jokes that once swayed a legion of mostly retail day traders to buy up coins on a whim come with a hint of sadness.

The frenzy started with Doge. A digital token created in 2013 by a pair of software engineers took off as interest in crypto trading spiked and a new crop of retail traders took to social media platforms, using jokes, sarcasm and trolling to gin up their popularity. Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk’s embrace of the token helped to send it soaring. Doge’s popularity inspired the creation of new tokens based on the breed of dog, including Shiba Inu, Baby Shiba Inu and Floki, which is named after Musk’s pet.