Investopedia / Joules Garcia
Shiba Inu (SHIBUSD) is an Ethereum-based altcoin (a cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin) that features the Shiba Inu—a Japanese breed of hunting dog—as its mascot. Shiba Inu is widely considered to be an alternative to Dogecoin; in fact, proponents of Shiba Inu tout it as “the Dogecoin killer.”
Shiba Inu and Dogecoin are meme coins, which are cryptocurrencies that are associated with some theme—like the Shiba Inu dog in the case of Shiba Inu and Dogecoin—but are often launched as a parody or inside joke rather than as a digital product that actually has some utility. While Dogecoin was launched in December 2013, Shiba Inu was created in August 2020 by an anonymous individual or group called Ryoshi.
The guiding tenets of the Shiba Inu ecosystem are spelled out in a “woof paper” (presumably a play on white paper), available at the ShibaToken.com website.
According to the paper, Shiba Inu was developed as the answer to a simple question: “What would happen if a cryptocurrency project was 100% run by its community?” Its founder Ryoshi attributes its origins to an “experiment in decentralized spontaneous community building.” According to Ryoshi, the power of collective decentralization can build something stronger than a centralized team ever could create.
The SHIBArmy's base of over 500,000 members embrace its founding principles, which are:
Because Shiba Inu is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token, it is created on and hosted by the Ethereum blockchain, instead of its own blockchain. Ryoshi states in the paper that he chose to build the Shiba Inu ecosystem on Ethereum because it was already secure and well-established, and it allowed the project to stay decentralized.
The Shiba Inu ecosystem consists of the following three tokens:
The Shiba Inu ecosystem consists of three tokens: Shiba Inu (SHIB), Leash (LEASH), and Bone (BONE).
The Shiba Inu Ecosystem also includes:
In keeping with the dog theme, the aforementioned Shiba Inu woof paper uses canine terms to describe how returns can be generated from one's Shiba Inu tokens. On ShibaSwap, these tokens can be used to "dig" (provide liquidity), "bury" (stake tokens), and even "fetch" (exchange one token for another). Tokens used in these strategies generate "Woof" returns in the form of Bone tokens that are distributed to token pools known as "Puppy Pools," according to the woof paper.
For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, part of the allure of meme coins is that they reject conventional protocols, and this unconventional approach may extend to the use of canine terms to describe return strategies. But they certainly seem to be a world away from staid investment terms such as return on investment and liquidity.
The Quick Start Guide at Shiba Token details the following steps for a prospective buyer of SHIB or LEASH tokens:
You can also use any number of online crypto exchanges to buy or convert tokens into SHIB.
Investing in cryptocurrencies is risky enough because of their massive volatility and lack of regulation. Investing in the altcoin/meme coin space presents an additional challenge because of a lack of differentiation and the fact that most of their value is based on frenetic trading by their fanatical followers. Here are some investing considerations for a potential investor in Shiba Inu.
Shiba Inu’s price soared more than tenfold in October 2021, giving it a peak market capitalization of $41 billion (on Oct. 29, 2021) and became one of the top ten meme cryptocurrencies by this measure. A tweet from Tesla founder Elon Musk on Oct. 3, 2021, featuring a picture of his new Shiba Inu puppy Floki provided the initial impetus for the meme coin’s price surge. Because Musk is one of the most high-profile supporters of Dogecoin and the self-proclaimed “Dogefather,” his cryptic tweets often result in heightened volatility in the cryptocurrency space.
Shiba Inu's price surge in October 2021 resulted in it almost catching up to Dogecoin's $36.9 billion market capitalization (as of Oct. 31, 2021), after briefly surpassing it at one point. It remains to be seen whether Shiba Inu will indeed become "the Dogecoin killer" that its growing community of supporters—known as the SHIBArmy—expects. But at least in October 2021, the stunning price gains of this previously obscure altcoin made Shiba Inu the tail that wagged the Dog(ecoin).
That eye-popping return also means that Shiba Inu has achieved its founder Ryoshi's objective of creating something from nothing in spades. However, those gains may likely have been driven by social-media-fueled speculative frenzy as cryptocurrency enthusiasts look for the next big thing. If the bubble bursts, retail investors who got in at the highs may be left holding the bag.
Some trades have become the stuff of investing legend, such as George Soros’ wager against the British pound in 1991, or the short subprime mortgages trade by John Paulson from 2007 to 2009. In terms of sheer percentage gains, a purported trade in Shiba Inu by an unknown trader puts even those legendary trades in the shade. The trader bought about 70 trillion SHIB tokens for approximately USD $8,000 in August 2020. A year later, that stake accounted for about 13% of SHIB’s total circulation of 550 trillion and gained a value of a staggering $5.7 billion.
There is a maximum limit of 589,735,030,408,323 SHIB. As of mid-2022, more than 549,000,000,000,000 had been mined. That means there are less than 7% of SHIB left to be mined.
According to Shiba Inu founder Ryoshi, it earned the nickname "the Dogecoin killer" because the value of SHIB is "primed and ready to overtake the value of Dogecoin." Ryoshi adds that even if SHIB never hits $0.01, SHIB's publicity and utility mean that it will be worth proportionately more than Dogecoin.
SHIB's price soared more than tenfold during October 2021, moving it into the top 10 of all cryptocurrencies. As a result, it attracted a great deal of interest from traders and garnered considerable media attention. Secondly, Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted a picture of his new Shiba Inu puppy Floki in the first week of October, generating significant retail investment in the meme token. In addition, crypto investors were enthused by the launch of Shiba Inu NFTs, as well as unconfirmed rumors that SHIB would be listed on popular stock and crypto trading app Robinhood.
Yes, Shiba Inu is a very risky, speculative investment. Cryptocurrencies can be extremely volatile, and SHIB's recent gains may make it vulnerable to a significant decline. Shiba Inu also has very limited utility, and its value is based mainly on a social-media-fueled speculative frenzy.
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Investopedia / Joules Garcia