Meme-Unicorn: How the $PEPE Meme Coin Hit a $1 Billion Market Cap

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$PEPE Logo via Twitter / Graphic by ONE37pm

The 2022 bear market killed most meme coins; many believed the crypto industry had matured. There's no place for silly dog-themed meme tokens; crypto is now about real-world utility, or so they said. Pepe the Frog and the crypto meme-coin community clearly missed the memo. 

The $PEPE token went from a low-budget meme project to being valued at well over $1 billion - if it were a Silicon Valley start-up, we'd be looking at a Unicorn. This all happened in the space of four weeks. Only in the crypto space do things move so quickly, and we often get left scratching our heads trying to figure out what happened. 

If you've spent time in crypto circles on Twitter over the past month, you might ask yourself, 'What is $PEPE?' 'Where did it come from?' and 'Will it vanish as quickly as it appeared?' Let's find out.

A Brief History of Pepe the Frog

Pepe began life in 2005 as a character in a comic book titled "Boy's Club" by @Matt_Furie. The comic book was great, but Pepe was far from a globally recognized character. However, a few years after Furie created Pepe, in around 2008, the first Pepe-themed memes started appearing in online forums. And in 2015, the beady-eyed Frog gained notoriety when various far-right-wing groups adopted it into their propaganda. 

Furie was devastated. So, he spearheaded the #SavePepe social media movement, successfully saving Pepe from his extremist captors. Since then, Pepe has found a new home in the crypto space, where he’s become a central part of the community’s online culture. He even has a dedicated NFT trading collection where pictures of him looking like Homer Simpson or Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, sell for over $100k.

What is $PEPE Coin? An Even Briefer History of $PEPE

Despite being worth around $1 billion, the $PEPE history class is short. On April 16th, the $PEPE token was launched with a vague roadmap, few apparent use cases, and no leadership. For the first week or so, no one took much notice of it, especially with the market already awash with so-called 'meme-coins' otherwise known as 'sh*t-coins.'

Social Media and $PEPE

One Final Pump Courtesy of Binance

Just as the hype began to die down and the whales took their profits Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, announced they would list $PEPE. So everyone with a Binance account - which is almost everyone in crypto - could now trade the token. 

Within 24 hours, $PEPE became a meme 'unicorn' as it surpassed the $1 billion market cap mark. But, it didn't end there as more and more Binance traders flooded the market, pushing $PEPE to $1.5 billion on Friday, May 5th. 

It's easy to forget how crazy this story is; $1.5 billion is a serious amount of money, even in today's world of trillion-dollar corporations. It's even more crazy when you think it all happened within just a couple of weeks, with no leader and little more than a steady stream of memes.


Is $PEPE actually worth anything?

The long answer: Intrinsic value is a distant concept when it comes to meme coins. The $PEPE supply is capped at 420.69 trillion, and each token is as valuable as the Pepe community decides. We can almost think of it as a weird medium between art and currency, where a combination of love for Pepe and speculation creates value. 

The short answer: No.

The Likely Demise of $PEPE

The Binance listing hype is dying down, and the crypto market as a whole has started the second week of May in the doldrums. $PEPE's market cap has nearly halved since its $1.5 billion peak. The sudden drop has already claimed several victims; Lookonchain reports that a whale who spent $2.42 million on $PEPE has lost over $500k in 48 hours. 

The recent slump could mark the end of $PEPE, but trying to predict the future of a meme-coin is a fool's game. One thing is for sure this is not the end of Pepe, the IP. Since escaping the clasp of the alt-right, the crypto community has given the controversial Frog a permanent home. So we just have to wait and see what crazy online phenomenon the notorious amphibian spearheads next. 

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