In 2014, as bitcoin rose in value to be worth several hundred dollars, many developers launched their own alternative cryptocurrencies, and ones that came with interesting backstories often grabbed media attention. Some of these coins were for the porn industry, others were for hip hop lovers, and some were actually serious contenders against Bitcoin that have become quite lucrative for investors.
Today, there are now more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies out there and given how volatile this market is, few could have predicted where these currencies ended up today. Some of these currencies like Dogecoin have grown more popular over time, while others like Coinye West are now defunct. I’ve taken a look at four of the silliest and most serious bitcoin alternatives to track where they are now.
The creator of Dogecoin initially launched this currency in December 2013 as a combination of an internet meme, bitcoin, and satirical joke. In the same month, a hacker stole millions of coins from Dogewallet, and more hacks and scams followed.
Today, Dogecoin has become a tipping system for people on the internet to reward each other for notable social media content. People in general just take Dogecoin a bit less seriously than other cryptocurrencies, but it’s still traded frequently at a volume of $46 million. As a curious byproduct, a fork of Dogecoin in 2014 led to the creation of Dogecoindark, which was rebranded as Verge currency last year. Verge currency has actually surpassed Dogecoin in value, as one Verge is currently worth $0.15 and total trading volume has reached $433 million.
Price near launch: In February 2014, one Dogecoin reached $0.0018.
Price now: As of this writing, one Dogecoin is worth $0.008338.
This fun altcoin for the hip hop community existed for a short-lived seven months in 2014. Coinye West died when Kanye West sued the developers and won a copyright infringement lawsuit. Its developers tried to keep the coin alive as Coinye instead of Coinye West, but despite their efforts, nobody mines or trades this coin in 2017.
Price near launch: Supposedly it rose as high as $1,000 per coin, according to its developers.
Price now: Defunct.
Ether tokens went live in 2015 as part of a blockchain-based cloud computing platform, known as Ethereum, created by Russian-Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin. Unlike other more silly cryptocurrencies on this list, Ethereum has a wider worldview and a philosophy behind it — some investors choose to back this cryptocurrency because they believe that its blockchain technology can be used to form alternatives to huge tech companies like Facebook in the future.
While initial efforts to build such a decentralized organization ended in a third of Ether funds being stolen last year, Ether has recovered from the setback and now has the second highest market capitalization after Bitcoin. It’s sprouted plenty of other blockchain-based ventures and projects, including a game called Cryptokitties and the Russian Central Bank’s attempt at creating digital rubles.
Price near launch: On the day of launch, one Ether was worth $2.645.
Price now: As of this writing, one Ether is worth $762.72.
Litecoin was founded much earlier than the other coins on this list, in 2011 by Charlie Lee, a former Google and Coinbase employee. It was modeled off of bitcoin, but used a different algorithm, had a quicker turnaround, and included more coins. Lee jokingly made his Twitter handle @SatoshiLite, a reference to the anonymous founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.
While Litecoin has been included in the skyrocket of cryptocurrency prices this past year, its overall value still trails behind bigger coins like bitcoin and ethereum. The virtual currency also made headlines last week when Lee divested his stake in the coin, citing “a conflict of interest” because he tweeted about prices often.
Price near launch: In the first month it was launched, one Litecoin was worth $3.376.
Price now: As of this writing, one Litecoin is worth $249.94.