Protocol | Fintech

The crypto conundrum: Is that hot meme coin a shiba inu or a squid?

The rise of shiba inu coin and the mysterious collapse of squid underline the perils and promise of crypto.

shiba inu coins

Crypto investors have sent shiba inu coin soaring, while the squid coin suddenly collapsed.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

The quirkiness of the crypto world developed a price tag this week.

The shiba inu coin passed dogecoin in total value, which means a token that started life as a meta joke beat the original, itself a parody of crypto mania. Then there's squid coin, the once-hot new currency based on the Netflix hit, which suddenly collapsed in an apparent scam.

The twin developments underlined the perils of crypto hype, but also the power of community, even with offerings that weren't meant to be taken seriously. And they showcased the perplexing challenges faced by businesses hoping to tap into crypto enthusiasm as more and more investors demand it be taken seriously as an asset class.

Shiba inu coin was "the joke of a joke, the meme of a meme," said Tad Park, CEO of the crypto investment fund Volt Equity. Yet heavy trading pushed the coin to become the ninth-largest cryptocurrency with a total value of more than $37 billion, moving past dogecoin which slipped to 10th at roughly $36 billion.

It was an impressive rally for a token that launched just last year as a "dogecoin killer," according to its creator, who's known only as Ryoshi.

While it didn't "kill" dogecoin, the shiba inu coin exploded in popularity "largely due to its community-driven price appreciation," Jesse Proudman, CEO of crypto robo adviser Makara, told Protocol. "The more people that learn about it, the more people buy it, and the network effect holds. It's the perfect example of how reflexive these markets are."

Where dogecoin still holds an edge is in mainstream acceptance. Robinhood, Coinbase and even SoFi allowed trading in dogecoin as that token gained popularity.

It's been harder to find crypto exchanges and brokers that support shiba inu coin, but a wave of pressure from fans has led some to add it.

Coinbase added the token in September, part of CEO Brian Armstrong's goal to turn the exchange into the "Amazon of assets." And just two weeks after adding crypto as an investment option, the online brokerage Public.com said it was making the shiba inu coin available to members.

Robinhood was once on the bleeding edge of crypto. It added dogecoin three years ago, and saw a huge payoff as dogecoin rose to become more than a third of its crypto revenue in the first quarter.

But it hasn't joined the shiba inu party. Part of the reason appears to be a reluctance to attract more heat from regulators who are already looking into allegations that Robinhood has turned investing into a game, and have also been critical of the crypto industry itself.

CEO Vlad Tenev told analysts on a recent earnings call that when it comes to adding new crypto tokens, "We're going to be very careful. We're a regulated entity, and we're hopeful to get some clarity soon on coins."

That has to be painful for a company that once seemed closely allied with groups like Reddit's WallStreetBets. Shiba inu coin rode the same defiant, counterculture wave that's been a key feature of the crypto revolution and propelled dogecoin's rise, said Park. "Once dogecoin became mainstream, it wasn't countercultural enough, so shiba came to take its place," he told Protocol.

The shiba inu army isn't quitting. A petition to Robinhood to add the shiba inu coin has received more than 470,000 signatures.

"There's a lot of consensus-driven pressure on Robinhood," Chris Kline, co-founder and chief operating officer of Bitcoin IRA, told Protocol. "I think you're going to see more adoption of the token itself on those platforms."

Proudman said shiba inu's momentum is "proof that, if a community gets behind a project or company in any market — traditional or digital — they can exert more influence over the asset's valuation than was previously possible."

But squid coin's collapse underscores the risks of jumping on a coin that's trending because it's trendy. In crypto "as with any good thing, there are bad players that try to mess it all up for their own gain," Park said.

Launched last month, squid coin rapidly rose in value, propelled by social media chatter. But on Monday, the token's value plunged from a high of about $2,860 to zero after the coin's creators, who are now known, cleaned out about $3.3 million in funds.

The purported scam is known as a "rug pull," in which "a developer [sells] off nearly all of the coins at once, capturing the total liquidity of the market at that time," Park said.

"The squid collapse is unfortunate, but also all too common in the altcoin world," he added. "The altcoin part of the crypto world is the Wild West."

Kline of Bitcoin IRA said "a token offered and limited to a mania-driven show like 'Squid Game' is full of red flags. Again, you need to arm yourself with proper education and research for making a decision when it comes to investing in crypto."

More coins are coming all the time, which means the shiba versus squid conundrum isn't going away. If the calculus for ordinary investors in crypto is complex, the tests businesses face in deciding when to add a coin are even more daunting.

Protocol | Workplace

Google contractor says she was fired for "ungoogley" behavior

According to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board, "ungoogley" is Google's term for having a bad attitude.

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job after asking about pay.

Photo: Future Publishing/Getty Images

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Tuesday Carne said in an interview with Protocol that she was fired after just nine days of working in the data contracting facility in South Carolina. Carne's termination letter (which Protocol reviewed) called her behavior at the meeting "unacceptable and 'ungoogley'" and claimed that her behavior was the reason for her firing.

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Protocol | Policy

Biden FCC nominee Sohn is walking a tightrope with Republicans

Gigi Sohn faces plenty of GOP opposition, but the longtime net-neutrality advocate is hoping to pick up a little Republican support as she deals with Democrats’ narrow margins.

Gigi Sohn’s work for net neutrality has become an issue in her confirmation hearings for the FCC.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Gigi Sohn wouldn’t mind getting support from a Republican or two, and it’d certainly make her path back to the Federal Communications Commission easier.

During her Senate Commerce Committee confirmation on Wednesday, Sohn, a progressive favorite and longtime net-neutrality advocate, touted her commitment to ensuring a diversity of voices on the airwaves, her past fights for small conservative networks she personally disagrees with and her habit of socializing with those she battles on policy.

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Protocol | Workplace

Microsoft Teams is going after small businesses

Microsoft Teams Essentials offers longer, bigger meetings for a relatively small price tag.

Companies can now buy a standalone version of Teams.

Photo: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

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Microsoft will charge small businesses $4 per user per month for Microsoft Teams Essentials, while Zoom’s cheapest paid plan is $14.99 per user per month and Slack’s is $6.67 per user each month, when billed annually. The free version of Microsoft Teams still exists, as do the various other Microsoft 365 plans that include Teams. Teams Essentials offers longer meeting times, larger group meetings and more cloud storage.

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Protocol | Policy

5 things to know about NTIA nominee Alan Davidson

If confirmed, the former Googler will play a key role in shaping the unprecedented expansion of broadband across the country.

Alan Davidson has been nominated to lead the NTIA.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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That law gives the NTIA authority to write the rules and oversee the distribution of $42.5 billion in broadband infrastructure grants to states, a duty that will require it to massively scale its internal resources. To lead the charge, Biden has nominated Alan Davidson, a well-known figure in Washington who has spent his career cycling through government, industry and advocacy groups. If confirmed, Davidson would have perhaps the most important role in guiding an unprecedented expansion of internet access in America.

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