Bitcoin might be the best-known cryptocurrency, but there are hundreds of "altcoins" that have exploded in value since crypto-fever took hold in mid-2017. The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies, excluding bitcoin, is an astounding $495 billion, up from $2.5 billion the same time last year, according to Coin Market Cap, a site that tracks cryptocurrencies.
With approximately 1,394 altcoins currently in existence, speculative investors can choose to invest in well-known digital currencies like bitcoin, ether, and litecoin--or lesser-known coins with smaller market caps and names like "InsaneCoin," "PutinCoin," and "PotCoin."
Here are four of the most ridiculous altcoins hitting the ICO market.
After Kodak announced on Tuesday that it will hold an initial coin offering starting January 31 to sell KODAKcoin to accredited investors, Kodak's stock price shot up by 120 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal. Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said through a statement that blockchain technology and cryptocurrency could be the "keys" to solving the problem of unfair image licensing practices. The digital coin will work with KODAKOne, a new platform that is supposed to help photographers license their images. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Kodak also announced it is licensing its name to another company to make bitcoin mining computer equipment (Kodak KashMiner) and create a mining center at the company's headquarters in Rochester, New York. (Miners can rent the mining rigs from Kodak if they're willing to split the profits with the company.) Kodak is only the latest public company to announce a pivot to blockchain technology--an ever-more popular move during crypto-mania.
Critics are casting doubt on Kodak's announcement. David Gerard, author of Attack of the 50ft Blockchain, told the BBC that Kodak's plan to help photographers protect their image copyrights with the blockchain sounds suspect. "Notice how they're marketing it: they state a problem, then say the blockchain can solve it. But there's no mechanism by which the blockchain could do that," says Gerard. "This doesn't do anything that signing up for Shutterstock or Getty Images wouldn't."
No one knows who created bitcoin. The only clue is that the original bitcoin whitepaper was written by someone, or a group of people, who go by the moniker "Satoshi Nakamoto." Similarly, TrumpCoin was created by a person who goes by "Chicken65." TrumpCoin was created in February 2016 to help Donald J. Trump "secure" the presidency of the United States and support Trump's "powerful vision to Make America Great Again," the TrumpCoin website reads.
In an interview Chicken65 gave to Vocativ, the TrumpCoin founder said he's a bald, 40-something Scottish music producer who supports free markets, opposes government regulations, and thinks Trump is the best symbol for these views. "I don't agree with all [Trump] says, but I couldn't call the coin 'The Free Society Logic Reason Truth and Philosophical coin,'" Chicken65 told Vocativ.
Pitched as "the blockchain solution for the global dental industry," Dentacoin's whitepaper says the project hopes to improve "the quality of dental care worldwide, reduce treatment costs and create a dental community." Dentacoin, which launched during an initial coin offering in July 2017, now has a $1.5 billion market cap. It was created a Bulgarian professor, Dimitar Dimitrakiev, and a team of dentists and engineers.
Jackson Palmer, a product manager at Adobe, and Billy Markus, a software developer at IMB, created the altcoin in 2013 based off a meme about a Shiba Inu dog having an internal dialogue. Despite its silly origin story, the altcoin gained in popularity and people started to buy it. During the first week of 2018, Dogecoin's market cap hit a high of $2 billion--despite the fact that the currency's founder, who left the project in the hands of a community of developers in 2015, expressed dismay that people are taking his sarcastic joke as an investment. "It says a lot about the state of the cryptocurrency space in general that a currency with a dog on it which hasn't released a software update in over two years has a $1 billion plus market cap," Palmer told Coindesk.