Dogecoin has gotten a lot of mainstream attention, but another dog-faced memecoin, Shiba Inu, seems to be getting more love lately.
Regularly covered in mainstream business news outlets like CNBC and The Wall Street Journal despite being created as a joke, Dogecoin has a market capitalization of $20 billion and has breached cryptocurrency’s top 10 on a number of occasions.
But despite that, the 9-year-old memecoin still struggles for traction as a currency replacement, accepted only in a few places, most notably for logoed mugs and sweaters at Tesla and tickets for the Dallas Mavericks.
Launched in August 2020 to almost no fanfare, Shiba Inu tokens now have a $17 billion market cap and a slew of recent product announcements — launching a themed fast food joint, announcing plans to build a metaverse, and a rumored Robinhood listing — have seen it jump more than 25% this week, vastly outperforming Dogecoin.
Which raises the question, where did Shiba Inu’s token come from, and why is it suddenly eating Dogecoin’s lunch?
Same Genes, Better Lineage
One good answer is that Shiba Inu was intended to be useful.
Dogecoin’s designers deliberately tried to make it hopeless as a payments tool — and keep in mind, this was 2013, long before Ethereum’s smart contracts turned cryptocurrencies into a business tool capable of doing anything from tracking cargo containers around the world to creating DeFi’s decentralized financial markets.
Dogecoin’s utility is growing, thanks to a reinvigorated foundation whose advisers include representatives of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin. That said, it’s still a work in progress, trying to make a successful meme into an actual cryptocurrency with stable economics — Dogecoin is one of the few cryptocurrencies without a fixed limit that protects it from devaluation — and real utility.
Shiba Inu, on the other hand, uses Ethereum-standard tokens and is capable of projects like Shiberse, a metaverse project that the developers say will soon be selling plots of virtual property — Shiba Lands. They also launched several lines of NFTs including ShibaNFTs and Shiboshi.
Riding the Wave
The Shiba Inu developers seem to be good at catching the publicity waves, starting with the one that brought Dogecoin out of obscurity in 2021, when Musk began tweeting about it “mooning” — the price taking off — and buying some for his infant son.
Another noteworthy example is movie theater chain AMC and game seller GameStop bringing both coins onboard together.
When Reddit’s WallStreetBets community famously saved AMC and GameStop from short sellers last year, it also turned its benevolent gaze on Dogecoin, which got a huge boost in both price and recognition.
AMC CEO Adam Aron caught the fan wave, promising to accept Dogecoin at theaters by March. So did GameStop, which began accepting it in December. But in both cases, a rapidly and rabidly growing Shiba Inu fan base managed to tag along, using the meme similarity to ride the wave. It’s already usable at GameStop.
“I have been repeatedly asked when AMC expects to routinely accept Dogecoin and Shiba Inu for any and all payments made via the AMC web site and mobile app,” Aron tweeted in January, saying a promised Q1 introduction looked likely.