#288: Why Memecoins are Having Their Spotlight Moment by Kairon

🪙 Memecoins, scenecoins, chaincoins, you name it

TPan here! I’m on the first leg of my honeymoon so I won’t be writing my usual pieces. However, I do have some great content for you from someone else in the space.

Today we have Kairon with his take on memecoins and why they’re more popular than ever. I’ve been friends with Kairon early on in my web3 journey and connected through our mutual interest in writing about this industry and its unique themes.

Kairon is an experimenter and thinker about everything to do with the context we build online, and how onchain data can help us build better networks for people and knowledge. He’s collaborated with RabbitHole, RADAR, Developer DAO and currently works at Aleo.

If you want to check out more of Kairon’s work, check out his Mirror and follow him on Farcaster.

Memecoins are having a moment, amirite? Solana is pumping (and rugging) at an unprecedented pace, BASE is preparing for what they’re preemptively calling “Onchain summer 2” - electric boogaloo, and of course, you’ve probably already heard about $DEGEN and its tsunami of “scenecoin” lookalikes. It’s definitely a good time to be a degen.


But many of you have asked the same question as most of us: “Memecoins have been a thing for close to a decade now.” Why are they only having their time in the spotlight now?

I’ve thought about this long and hard since I decided to dig into $DEGEN at Folklore’s request. I didn’t pay too much attention to them before that tbh, I usually lean more strongly toward fundamentals with anything I support, and $Boden isn’t really a groundbreaking idea if I’m being frank.

But, after creating possibly the most in-depth report on degen to date, I’m surprised to say I get it now. Memecoins as a concept have been a thing before, but no matter how many times Elon has inadvertently pumped $DOGE, there’s a huge chasm between what used to be and what we’re facing now. Before $DEGEN, there were no real memecoins, because there was no real meme to proliferate and *experience* in any tangible way.


I co-wrote a piece about the untapped power of social tokens a couple of years ago. In it, I explored what could happen if you detached the membership benefits of a token from the monetary angle; something I learned from my time at RabbitHole is that if you build your base on top of airdrop hunters and token flippers, you’ll almost certainly see the foundations crumble under the moving terrain. 

What held up this development at the time was the lack of an easy-to-access interface to build on top of, something Eliot and I re-visited later on when we took a more direct approach to what happens when you shape an experience around a token’s core behavior. Little did we know, we were right about the principle, just not what incentives could achieve if properly harnessed. What I missed at the time was the ability for these shoddy foundations to consolidate if, and only if, you incentivize people to proliferate your meme and build stuff the degens will want to keep coming back to. 

To be more specific. Degen may be just a memecoin meant to reward people on Farcaster for good content and consistently showing up, but it only became what it is today thanks to the excitement and encouragement of the community that ensued the initial airdrop.

People built games and DeFi platforms and integrated the token into everything they built. If any of you were here back when Beanie was a prominent voice in the space, he had once promised to do exactly that but never delivered. Degen did it almost by accident, all thanks to its ease of access and sheer memeability.


We finally landed at the core of why I think today’s memecoins are different. 

Dogecoin launched as a parody of Bitcoin on top of a hugely popular meme, but the tech limitations meant you couldn’t do much with it besides put more money in. $PEPE launched as the ETH memecoin, promising composability and a secure network, but it’s too expensive to truly harness. Who wants to pay a $100 gas fee to play some dumb clipart game? 

Only after last year’s advancements in L2 adoption, the rise of BASE and web3 social platforms like Farcaster, and the genius implementation of frames into the social feed, could the first real memecoin arise.

Degen became the overnight success that it is because you can tip people on social media with it with minimal hassle and without gas fees; you can play giveaways and even mint NFTs from the community without leaving the social feed; the infrastructure and tech are so simple and readily available that literally anyone can build something that spreads awareness of the meme in an afternoon.

And now, it’s the first memecoin to launch using the Optimism stack via Farcaster and Base, settling its own transactions via Arbitrum tooling and catalyzing an entire explosion of chaincoins, scenecoins, and who knows what other buzzwords that seek to capture the same or similar approach of incentivizing one core action while building the experience around everything that could tap into it.

Lifestyle brands, tooling development, memes, a venture collective. There’s a memecoin to support all of these.


All thanks to one key interaction (frames) and a simple to-compose token.

I used to think memecoins were just some silly speculation vehicle for the unhinged, but the degens proved to me just how powerful an incentivized and barrier-free frenzy can be when enough people put their minds to riding the wave and building something solid out of quicksand.

As I’ve written multiple times before, memecoins are going to an even bigger theme than a few years ago. Fortunately, we’re going to see this trend take on a new chapter beyond its namesake. We have an early idea of what that could look like, and much more will likely come.

If you want to check out more of Kairon’s work, check out his Mirror and follow him on Farcaster.

See you soon!

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