Jackson Palmer no longer thinks it’s funny to imitate Doge, the internet meme about a Shiba Inu dog whose awe-struck expressions and garbled syntax (e.g. “Wow. So pizza. Much delicious.”) made him a viral sensation several years ago.
But if he did, he might channel Doge to offer a few cautionary words for investors who are falling for cryptocurrency start-ups, Silicon Valley’s latest moneymaking craze:
Very bubble. Much scam. So avoid.
Mr. Palmer, the creator of Dogecoin, was an early fan of cryptocurrency, a form of encrypted digital money that is traded from person to person. He saw investors talking about Bitcoin, the oldest and best-known cryptocurrency, and wanted to find a way to poke fun at the hype surrounding the emerging technology.
So in 2013, he built his own cryptocurrency, a satirical mash-up that combined Bitcoin with the Doge meme he’d seen on social media. Mr. Palmer hoped to use Dogecoin to show the absurdity of wagering huge sums of money on unstable ventures.
But investors didn’t get the joke and bought Dogecoin anyway, bringing its market value as high as $400 million. Along the way, the currency became a magnet for greed and attracted a group of scammers and hackers who defrauded investors, hyped fake products, and left many of the currency’s original backers empty-handed.
Today, Mr. Palmer, 30, is one of the loudest voices warning that a similar fate might soon befall the entire cryptocurrency industry.
“What’s happening to crypto now is what happened to Dogecoin,” Mr. Palmer told me in a recent interview. “I’m worried that this time, it’s on a much grander scale.”
Already, there are signs of trouble on the horizon. This week, after Chinese authorities announced a crackdown on virtual currencies, the value of Bitcoin briefly tumbled 30 percent before partially recovering. The value of Dogecoin fell more than 50 percent last week. Its market value by midday Fr...