What Is Shiba Inu (SHIB)?
Shiba Inu (SHIBUSD) is an Ethereum-based altcoin (a cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin) that features the Shiba Inu—a Japanese breed of hunting dog—as its mascot. Shiba Inu is widely considered to be an alternative to Dogecoin; in fact, proponents of Shiba Inu tout it as "the Dogecoin killer."
Shiba Inu and Dogecoin are meme coins, which are cryptocurrencies that are associated with some theme—like the Shiba Inu dog in the case of Shiba Inu and Dogecoin—but are often launched as a parody or inside joke rather than as a digital product that actually has some utility. While Dogecoin was launched in December 2013, Shiba Inu was created in August 2020 by an anonymous individual or group called Ryoshi.
- Shiba Inu is an Ethereum-based altcoin that features the Shiba Inu hunting dog as its mascot.
- It is widely considered to be an alternative to Dogecoin and is touted as "the Dogecoin killer" by its supporters, a community known as the SHIBArmy.
- Shiba Inu was created in August 2020 by an individual or group called Ryoshi.
- Shiba Inu's price peaked more than tenfold on Oct. 29, 2021, giving it a market capitalization of $41 billion. Even with a steep drop in market cap to today's $6 billion (as of May 31, 2022), Shiba Inu still ranks in the top ten among all meme cryptocurrencies by this measure, right behind Dogecoin.
Understanding Shiba Inu (SHIB)
The guiding tenets of the Shiba Inu ecosystem are spelled out in a "woof paper" (presumably a play on white paper), available at the ShibaToken.com website.
According to the paper, Shiba Inu was developed as the answer to a simple question: "What would happen if a cryptocurrency project was 100% run by its community?" Its founder Ryoshi attributes its origins to an "experiment in decentralized spontaneous community building." According to Ryoshi, the power of collective decentralization can build something stronger than a centralized team ever could create.
The SHIBArmy's base of over 500,000 members embrace its founding principles, which are:
- The project started from zero, with zero, in the spirit of creating something out of nothing;
- It was not founded from an existing community or preassembled team; and
- A professed love of Shiba Inu dogs.
Because Shiba Inu is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token, it is created on and hosted by the Ethereum blockchain, instead of its own blockchain. Ryoshi states in the paper that he chose to build the Shiba Inu ecosystem on Ethereum because it was already secure and well-established, and it allowed the project to stay decentralized.
The Shiba Inu Ecosystem
The Shiba Inu ecosystem consists of the following three tokens:
- Shiba Inu (SHIB): This is the project's foundational currency. Starting with a supply of 1 quadrillion (equal to 1,000 trillion), Ryoshi locked 50% in Uniswap (for liquidity purposes) and then sent the other 50% to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin for safekeeping. In May 2021, Buterin donated more than 50 trillion Shiba Inu coins, then worth over $1 billion, to a COVID-19 relief fund in India, when the nation was reeling from the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, Buterin also "burned"—or permanently removed from circulation—40% of Shiba Inu's total supply to a so-called dead wallet.
- Leash (LEASH): The second token in the Shiba Inu ecosystem, Leash represents the other end of the ecosystem's spectrum, with a total supply of only 107,646 tokens compared with the trillions of Shiba Inu tokens.
- Bone (BONE): Bone fits in between the other two tokens in terms of circulation supply, with a total supply of 250,000,000 tokens. It is designed to be a governance token that will allow the SHIBArmy to vote on upcoming proposals.
Shiba Inu Tokens
The Shiba Inu ecosystem consists of three tokens: Shiba Inu (SHIB), Leash (LEASH), and Bone (BONE).
The Shiba Inu Ecosystem also includes:
- ShibaSwap: The goal of DeFi platform ShibaSwap is to provide a safe place to trade cryptocurrencies while remaining decentralized. SHIB and LEASH are best purchased and sold through ShibaSwap.
- Shiba Inu Incubator: The incubator aims to shift the focus beyond popular art forms such as painting, photography, and digital rendering and discover ways to honor creativity and ingenuity.
- Shiboshis: Shiboshis are 10,000 Shiba Inu-generated non-fungible tokens (NFTs) written on the Ethereum blockchain, with different traits that make each Shiboshi unique and collectible.
SHIB's Canine Terminology
In keeping with the dog theme, the aforementioned Shiba Inu woof paper uses canine terms to describe how returns can be generated from one's Shiba Inu tokens. On ShibaSwap, these tokens can be used to "dig" (provide liquidity), "bury" (stake tokens), and even "fetch" (exchange one token for another). Tokens used in these strategies generate "Woof" returns in the form of Bone tokens that are distributed to token pools known as "Puppy Pools," according to the woof paper.
For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, part of the allure of meme coins is that they reject conventional protocols, and this unconventional approach may extend to the use of canine terms to describe return strategies. But they certainly seem to be a world away from staid investment terms such as return on investment and liquidity.
How to Buy SHIB
The Quick Start Guide at Shiba Token details the following steps for a prospective buyer of SHIB or LEASH tokens:
- Create a MetaMask wallet.
- Send Ethereum (ETH) to your wallet, by buying directly or transferring from exchanges like Coinbase, using the ERC-20 network when transferring Ethereum.
- Connect your MetaMask wallet to ShibaSwap.
- Swap ETH for SHIB, LEASH, or BONE tokens.
You can also use any number of online crypto exchanges to buy or convert tokens into SHIB.
Shiba Inu Investing Considerations
Investing in cryptocurrencies is risky enough because of their massive volatility and lack of regulation. Investing in the altcoin/meme coin space presents an additional challenge because of a lack of differentiation and the fact that most of their value is based on frenetic trading by their fanatical followers. Here are some investing considerations for a potential investor in Shiba Inu.
Shiba Inu's price soared more than tenfold in October 2021, giving it a peak market capitalization of $41 billion (on Oct. 29, 2021) and became one of the top ten meme cryptocurrencies by this measure. A tweet from Tesla founder Elon Musk on Oct. 3, 2021, featuring a picture of his new Shiba Inu puppy Floki provided the initial impetus for the meme coin's price surge. Because Musk is one of the most high-profile supporters of Dogecoin and the self-proclaimed "Dogefather," his cryptic tweets often result in heightened volatility in the cryptocurrency space.
Shiba Inu's price surge in October 2021 resulted in it almost catching up to Dogecoin's $36.9 billion market capitalization (as of Oct. 31, 2021), after briefly surpassing it at one point. It remains to be seen whether Shiba Inu will indeed become "the Dogecoin killer" that its growing community of supporters—known as the SHIBArmy—expects. But at least in October 2021, the stunning price gains of this previously obscure altcoin made Shiba Inu the tail that wagged the Dog(ecoin).
- Low per-token price: Even after its impressive gains, Shiba Inu (SHIB) costs a fraction of a cent, so one can buy millions of SHIB tokens with a few hundred dollars. At its peak price of $0.00007482 (on Oct. 29, 2021), $100 would have fetched you over 1.5 million SHIB tokens. Currently, at $0.00002925, $100 will buy you 3.4 million SHIB tokens, more than twice as much.
- Limited utility and use case: Though its adherents may point out that Shiba Inu-based NFTs are now available, and its Ethereum base might enable smart-contracting capabilities in the future, Shiba Inu presently has very limited utility and does not have a compelling use case yet.
- High volatility: Shiba Inu's peak market capitalization of $41 billion makes it larger than many S&P 500 companies that have been in existence for decades and that have grown sales and profits for most of that time. In fact, the combined $79 billion value of Shiba Inu and Dogecoin (as of Oct. 28, 2021) exceeded the market capitalization of 388 companies on the S&P 500. On Aug. 2, 2020, SHIB was trading at $0.00000000051, so at its peak price of $0.00007482 (on Oct. 29, 2021), it has gained an astronomical 14,670,488%! This means that $1 invested in SHIB on Aug. 2, 2020, would have been worth a cool $146,705 on Oct. 29, 2021. By mid-2022 the price had fallen to $0.00001040.
That eye-popping return also means that Shiba Inu has achieved its founder Ryoshi's objective of creating something from nothing in spades. However, those gains may likely have been driven by social-media-fueled speculative frenzy as cryptocurrency enthusiasts look for the next big thing. If the bubble bursts, retail investors who got in at the highs may be left holding the bag.
Some trades have become the stuff of investing legend, such as George Soros' wager against the British pound in 1991, or the short subprime mortgages trade by John Paulson from 2007 to 2009. In terms of sheer percentage gains, a purported trade in Shiba Inu by an unknown trader puts even those legendary trades in the shade. The trader bought about 70 trillion SHIB tokens for approximately USD $8,000 in August 2020. A year later, that stake accounted for about 13% of SHIB's total circulation of 550 trillion and gained a value of a staggering $5.7 billion.
How Many Shiba Inu Coin Are Left?
There is a maximum limit of 589,735,030,408,323 SHIB. As of mid-2022, more than 549,000,000,000,000 had been mined. That means there are less than 7% of SHIB left to be mined.
Why Was Shiba Inu Called the Dogecoin Killer?
According to Shiba Inu founder Ryoshi, it earned the nickname "the Dogecoin killer" because the value of SHIB is "primed and ready to overtake the value of Dogecoin." Ryoshi adds that even if SHIB never hits $0.01, SHIB's publicity and utility mean that it will be worth proportionately more than Dogecoin.
Why Was Shiba Inu in the News in October 2021?
SHIB's price soared more than tenfold during October 2021, moving it into the top 10 of all cryptocurrencies. As a result, it attracted a great deal of interest from traders and garnered considerable media attention. Secondly, Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted a picture of his new Shiba Inu puppy Floki in the first week of October, generating significant retail investment in the meme token. In addition, crypto investors were enthused by the launch of Shiba Inu NFTs, as well as unconfirmed rumors that SHIB would be listed on popular stock and crypto trading app Robinhood.
Is Shiba Inu a Risky Investment?
Yes, Shiba Inu is a very risky, speculative investment. Cryptocurrencies can be extremely volatile, and SHIB's recent gains may make it vulnerable to a significant decline. Shiba Inu also has very limited utility, and its value is based mainly on a social-media-fueled speculative frenzy.