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Crypto culture wars are heating up

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea displayed a surprisingly deep understanding of crypto native memes, jokes and culture
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea displayed a surprisingly deep understanding of crypto native memes, jokes and culture

Each day, Coinrule will run through the state of the digital assets market for Blockbeat, your home for news, analysis, opinion and commentary on blockchain and digital assets.

The crypto news cycle is as prone to a slow summer ‘silly season’ as are traditional markets. The latest drama however highlights an emerging fault line between some of the so-called ‘OG’ builders and developers in the space and some of the newly rising stars.

It all started with a trend of ‘Celebrity Coins’. Famous and semi-famous celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner or Davido launched their own tokens. Most of these tokens went to 0 relatively quickly. But one launch so far stood out. Australian rapper Iggy Azalea displayed a surprisingly deep understanding of crypto native memes, jokes and culture. As the price of her token continued to rise, ‘Crypto’ celebrities started to chime in.

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Most prominently, Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum, tweeted that a ‘celebrity project’ should at least have some kind of ‘public-good goal’, ‘fun mechanics that go beyond trading a token’ and a longevity of ’10+ years’. He immediately faced attacks for being part of an out of touch elite. After all, Iggy’s project is just over a week old. Unlike many others so far, it is neither a scam nor does it seem to be a quick cash grab. Surely the space should be more welcoming to newcomers and those experimenting with social tokens, fan tokens and similar innovation?

The crypto news cycle is as prone to a slow summer 'silly season' as are traditional markets.
The crypto news cycle is as prone to a slow summer 'silly season' as are traditional markets.

Ironically, one criticism that particularly stuck was about permissionless-ness. After all, one of the most often touted values of Blockchain and crypto is the permissionless nature of the technology. Of course Vitalik cannot stop a project. But someone seen as a leader of this permissionless space should probably not be taking such a strong position so early on in a project’s life-cycle.

But others see Vitalik’s position more positively. This comes back to the question of what Crypto and Blockchain is meant to enable over time. Are celebrity coins just a minor distraction in the big picture? Or could they potentially even distract from objectives such as building an entirely new financial system on blockchain rails? Or may there even be something in them that will become valuable over time?

Over the shorter-term horizon these questions may not matter much. On the other hand, financial regulators might take an interest in Celebrity Coins that goes beyond what Iggy et al might wish for. In the meantime, the Crypto Culture wars are just beginning.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent those of City AM, its affiliates, or employees.