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Meme coin rebellion

The Meme Coin Rebellion - A Bold Thesis

Are you ready for the Meme coin supercycle?

Are you ready for the Meme coin supercycle?

If you've been following the crypto market for some time, you've likely witnessed that one of the hottest sectors in recent months has been meme coins. Yes, you heard it right: meme coins.

As their name implies, meme coins are a category of cryptocurrency with funny names, logos, and branding that draw inspiration from popular memes, jokes, or internet phenomena. The most famous one is Dogecoin, which was created in 2013 to satirise the hype around Bitcoin. But over the years, this subfield of crypto has grown massively, and today, just the top 5 meme coins have a cumulative valuation of over $50 billion.

While in previous bull runs, the surge of meme coins often coincided with the peak of the cycle, there is compelling evidence to suggest that the market dynamics have completely changed in this bull run. In fact, it seems that this meme trend could last and offer the most asymmetric return potential.

In this paper, we're going to explore why they have generated so much hype recently by examining them through different lenses to try to understand why they might be here to stay.

The rise of financial nihilism

Let’s face it, for the young generations out there just entering the labor force, the idea of the “American dream” — where anyone can achieve wealth and prosperity with hard work and determination alone — doesn’t exist anymore. Nowadays, the average worker is trapped, unable to significantly improve their financial condition and caught between an escalating cost of living that does not align with the return on labor. This is the idea of “financial nihilism.”

Since central bankers discovered a magic tool — printing money — to solve all of their problems, they've essentially put the financial market on steroids. This has widened the gap considerably between the wealthy, who hold significant amounts of capital and have seen their assets surge in value as liquidity flooded financial markets, and the poor, who rely on their hard work just to make ends meet.

Wealth inequality, USA, 1965-2022
Source: wid.world

Indeed, life is becoming increasingly challenging for the average worker who doesn’t hold a lot of assets. This point is well illustrated by the evolution of the median household income-to-house price ratio. From the 1960's to now, home prices soared from around 4-4.5x median household income to more than 7x household income and this upward trend is still strong.

Housing bubble
Source: longtermtrends.net

This trend is pushing households to settle in suboptimal locations. Not surprisingly, this has driven up the average daily commute time and cost over time. The consequence of this: more stress, less free time, and less happiness. Far from this cherished notion of the American dream.

American commutes hit a new record in 2018

Furthermore, personal savings rates have also been on a downtrend trajectory since the 1960’s (excluding the pandemic, which was an anomaly as people were locked up in their homes). Starting at 10% in 1960, the personal savings rate has now declined to less than 5%. This means that, in addition to struggling  to afford a home, the average worker finds themselves unable to save enough money to invest and improve their financial conditions. Meanwhile, holders of capital continue to see their wealth compound over time.

Personal saving rate
Source: Fred St Louis

For the average guy who has just started out in his real life and who wants to break out of this trap, he is in a tough situation. He realises that he is not going to make it by working more. Labor doesn’t reward as much as capital anyway. So why bother? No, instead, he understands that the only way to break out of this cycle is to take bigger risks. But not everyone has the entrepreneurial drive of Elon Musk, and for many, it seems that financial speculation is one of the only paths left.

This has attracted a lot of people to crypto as it is seen as a place where a bit of hope is left, and where stories of “rags to riches” are still common. But within this field, one sector in particular is known for those kinds of stories: meme coins. And recently, they have generated a lot of hype.

But why meme coins especially?

There are numerous sectors within crypto and countless interesting projects. So, why then do memes generate so much hype? It’s a great question, and that's precisely what we’ll cover here.

Elon Musk tweet

Crypto is a game of attention -> meme = biggest attention driver

A plate breaks in a restaurant. All eyes turn in that direction. Indeed, humans are attention-driven beings, and in today’s world, attention is the most valuable commodity. Wherever attention goes, money flows.

In its rawest form, crypto is precisely that: a game of attention . Often, it is not the project with the best technology or fundamentals that wins. Instead, it is the one that generates the most hype. And this is where meme coins excel.

Crypto is a game of attention -> meme = biggest attention driver
Source: Twitter - kelxyz

As such, meme coins are simply tokens that, for their branding and public image, use popular memes of internet culture. They possess no inherent value or utility beyond their potential to go viral. But this is already more than enough to generate wild returns.

To illustrate this point, consider the price performance of Dogecoin during the last bull run when it began to generate a lot of hype due to tweets from Elon Musk:

Price performance of Dogecoin during the last bull run

Not fundamental value - So what?

"No fundamental" is not a bug, but a feature of meme coins. Ironically, this is precisely why they are so popular. Let’s face it: the majority of people in crypto neither want nor have time to learn about the technicalities of blockchains, the vast arrays of Layers 2, proto-danksharding, or liquid staking. All of this is beyond their reach. But fundamental or not, what people care about is the following:

  • Fair launches
  • Simple narrative
  • Full transparency
  • Fun and community centric
  • No asymmetry of information

Guess what? Meme coins tick all those boxes. Here, the narrative is simple enough for everyone to understand, and people can be sure that no one will take advantage of their lack of technical background to mislead them.

With memes, everyone is on the same playing field, everyone understands the concept, and everyone has the same edge. This fairness is what people care about and this is why memes are so popular.

Now, on that line of thought, there is also a case to be made that meme coins are, in fact addressing a big need of major blockchain: the lack of adoption. With so many L1 or L2 to choose from and not enough attractive apps, chain leaders are realising that meme coins are one of the best ways to attract initial users into a chain. Let’s face it, meme coins are one of the most effective ways to drive adoption as people love to trade them.

To illustrate this point, we note that out of the top 10 trading pairs of the last month on Jupiter , the largest DeFi platform on Solana, memes occupy the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th place, respectively. This statistic is significant and underscores how meme coins are becoming a significant part of crypto culture.

Top trading pairs
Source: Jupiter

Mid-curvers are the losers

Mid-curvers are the losers

In a bull market, it pays to stop trying to understand every concept rationally. Reality is what it is - Crypto is a nascent market still trying to find its mark and whether you like it or not, meme coins have become an integral part of the culture. People love them and see them as a brand that they can buy from day 1. So what’s left to say?

Even Franklin Templeton, one of the leading TradFi institutions in the US has written a paper on memes.

Even Franklin Templeton, one of the leading TradFi institutions in the US has written a paper on memes.
Source: Twitter

So yes, there is a lot of evidence suggesting that market dynamics have changed in this cycle and that meme coins have grown beyond the point of no return.

Referring back to the tweet from Elon Musk, “the most entertaining outcome is the most likely” and sometimes our prefrontal cortex is stopping us from acknowledging that the most obvious bet can sometimes feel stupid.

Meme and Meaning - A philosophical approach

Meme and Meaning - A philosophical approach

Now, if we look at meme coins from a more philosophical perspective, we come to realise that they are more than just a fun community. They represent a form of rebellion against a system that has corrupted the notion of “value” over time. In many ways, meme coins serve as a direct reflection of the false promises and unfairness of the current system.

Years of monetary debasement have eroded the value of hard work. Years of monetary debasement has led to massive wealth inequalities. Despite living in an age of unprecedented abundance, many people find themselves trapped, barely meeting their ends' needs.

So when we look at all of that from a raw eye, this is a meme in and of itself.

The surge of meme coins is merely the consequence of a system that does not seem to work anymore and a proxy for how “sarcastic" society is.

People feel trapped, people want to escape, and people are using meme coins to dream about a better future. This sector of crypto has literally transformed itself into an on-chain social lottery system that is both fun and affordable, and this has attracted a lot of people in. So as long as the average worker cannot envision a life where they can afford a home and raise a family without constantly worrying about making ends meet, meme coins are likely here to stay.

Now that we’ve covered why memes are becoming popular, let’s now look at the current meme coins landscape and how to take advantage of this new trend.

The history of meme coins

The history of meme coins

The history of memes is indeed vast and complex. Here we’ll only explore the three most prominent meme coins that have significantly marked the crypto space.

A King is born

The first ever meme coin was Dogecoin and featured the Shiba Inu dog from the "Doge" meme. Created in 2013 to satirise the hype around Bitcoin, it is only in 2020 that its popularity exploded when personalities like Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, or Snoop Doog started to create a hype around it. At its all-time-highs, Dogecoin was valued at over $75 billion.

King Dogecoin

Today, Dogecoin is still the OG and still the king of memes and has a market capitalization of over $25 billion.

The rise of the Shiba Inu

The second meme that went viral was Shiba Inu, a sort of remake of the original Dogecoin. But from a technical perspective, Dogecoin and Shiba Inu Coin differ significantly. While Dogecoin is an adapted variant of the cryptocurrency Litecoin (LTC), the Shiba Inu Coin is an ERC-20 token and is thus based on the Ethereum blockchain. 

At the very beginning, the SHIB token became famous for three things: its liquidity, which was locked into Uniswap, an Indian Covid relief fund, and a token burning by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.

Crypto Relief
Source: Crypto Relief

But over time, this meme went a step beyond and transitioned to a utility based project with features such as ShibaSwap, a decentralised exchange, Shiba Inu Incubator, Shiboshis (unique NFTs), or the Shiba Inu Rescue Association.

Pepe - The most memeable meme coin in existence

In April 2023, Pepe was launched on the Ethereum blockchain and became an instant success. To provide some perspective, Dogecoin took almost four years for its market capitalisation to surpass $1 billion. In contrast, Pepe Coin reached the same benchmark within three weeks of its launch.

Pepe coin

Today , Pepe is the king meme of Ethereum, and a lot of people are viewing it as a high beta play for Ethereum (which means that if Ethereum moves, Pepe will follow but with more strength).

Doge, Shib, Pepe
Source: coinmarketcap (as of 02/04/2024)

The Meme coin supercycle

Throughout this paper, we’ve demonstrated that there is compelling evidence that we are now entering into the next generation of meme coins. Here, it is not about some isolated runs of 1 or 2 meme coins over an entire cycle. Instead, it is about the emergence of memes as a new asset class within crypto that could provide the most asymmetrical returns.

Taking advantage of this opportunity - Our best picks

Hence, for the next phase of this bull run, a good meme coin watchlist could be one of your best assets. Fortunately for you, we are going to look just at that. But before that, let's just remind ourselves that this space is ultra speculative and moves at the speed of light. So what follows are simply ideas about projects that might be worth keeping an eye on. And bear in mind that ideas do change a lot as data becomes more available and time separates the noise.

The established meme

There is a strong case to be made that the OG meme will stay and continue to perform well. Those are the three memes that we’ve talked about just before: DOGE, SHIB, and PEPE, so there is no need to go into more detail.

Now, let’s look at other meme coins that have a high return potential on different chains.


Due to its high throughput and low latency, Solana has been the natural home to meme coins for the past months. We’ve seen several memes reaching over a billion dollars on this chain and given the strong relative strength of this network, it can be argued that the meme coin trend on Solana might continue. However, the market is now more crowded and it is getting increasingly harder to distinguish good memes from bad ones.

Our top 3 picks on Solana

  • BONK: This is the OG meme of Solana. It all started on Christmas day 2022, just following the debacle where Solana was considered a “dead chain,”  BONK was airdropped to existing Solana users, developers, and creators as a gesture of goodwill and to stimulate activity on the chain. When Solana started its run, BONK followed and became an integral part of Solana culture.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bonk_inu

Website: https://bonkcoin.com/

  • WIF: Dogwifhat is a meme that popped up out of nowhere and is currently the biggest on by market capitalisation on the Solana blockchain. The community behind this project is super active and some people have even raised over $650,000 to put this meme on the Las Vegas Sphere.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dogwifcoin

Website: https://dogwifcoin.org/

  • WEN: This one is a particular meme coin. In addition to being a cat (we still don’t have a cat meme at over $1 billion valuation yet), it was also the “test” coin of Jupiter’s new launchpad and can also be seen as a high beta play for Jupiter.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wenwencoin

Website: https://www.wenwencoin.com/

Bonk, Wif, Wen
Source: Twitter, Birdeye (as of 02/04/2024)


Base is a Layer 2 on Ethereum built by Coinbase. The thesis here is simple: EIP-4844 has decreased the cost of L2 considerably and it is now competing with chains like Solana. Further, Coinbase is moving more and more on-chain and we believe that they will funnel a lot of their users to Base, especially with their Coinbase wallet which makes the on-chain user experience seamless. In fact, this trend is already starting and network activity is picking up rapidly.

Daily transactions Base
Source: Dune (as of 02/04/2024)

Given all of that, we believe that Base is another interesting place to hunt for new meme coins.

Our top 3 picks on Base:

  • DOGINME: This is another meme coming from Farcaster. It represents the Farcaster founder's dog that is in fact not a dog but the primordial dog in him. 

The community behind this project is strong and attractive, and now the question is: Do you have the dog in you?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/doginmeonbase

Website: https://dogin.meme/

  • TOSHI: TOSHI is one of the oldest memes on base and has demonstrated a lot of resilience before Base started to gain traction. Like WEN, it is also a cat, and is competing to become the first cat to reach a valuation of $1 billion. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Toshi_base

Website: https://www.toshithecat.com/

  • NORMIE: Everyone thinks they're the main character, no one considers themselves a "normie." Thus, everyone is "in on the joke" and that's what makes NORMIE compelling.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NormieBase

Website: https://normiebase.com/

Doginme, Toshi, Normie
Source: Twitter, Birdeye (as of 02/04/2024)

The race to $100 billion has already started

Memecoin supercycle
Source: memecoinrace.xyz

Closing thoughts

As discussed at length throughout this paper, it seems that the rise of meme coins represents more than just a passing trend; it embodies a broader societal response to the rise of financial nihilism. In a world where individuals feel trapped in financial austerity, unable to afford a home or save enough money every month to improve their financial conditions, there is a growing incentive for them to take greater financial risks. This has led them down the path of crypto, and especially meme coins, which they view as one of the best ways to try to generate life-changing returns.

While skeptics may dismiss meme coins as mere speculative tools, this paper suggested otherwise. Here, we argued that meme coins wear multiple hats. For some, it represents the greatest on-chain social lottery system ever created - one that is both fair, enjoyable, and affordable and where the potential virality of a meme will influence its return potential. Others view memes as a piece of brand ownership that people can own from day one, something deeply embedded in crypto culture. And for some, memes are seen as a form of rebellion against a system that does not work - a pure reflection of society’s “sarcasm.”

Given all of that, there is a strong case to be made that meme coins are here to stay and can provide one of the most asymmetric return potential. Now, the question is: Will you embrace this new opportunity or are you going to mid-curve it?

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