It started as a joke, as an accidental thing.
Jordan has been in DeFi for many years, he has a senior position in ConsenSys and his job is to build DeFi products.
“I’m deep in this space and have been building products, infrastructures and apps in DeFi and it’s really getting exciting the last couple of years, especially over the last few months. Then then the Yam project happened (see link). I like the guys, so I wasn’t mocking them, but I was making a joke about the craziness of the space.”
Accordingly, Jordan posted a two-page fake project outline, called the DeGenerator where anyone could spin up a DeFi protocol in under five minutes.
“A couple of button clicks and boom – you’re done and live on Mainnet.”
It may have been a joke, but it gained traction very quickly – a quarter of a million Twitter impressions in minutes. Jordan was bemused but opened a Telegram channel to chat with the new and fast forming community. Jordan thought he might just have some fun with his buddies who got his joke, but then someone created a token – the $MEME token – and it took off.
“After the dust settled, a few of us decided there was something special and so we decided to buy a product around it.”
This happened in approximately one hour.
It’s a reverse engineering project. “Here in ConsenSys we spend a lot of time and money creating product before we then look for community, but that was flipped with $MEME; we have a raging, active community and now we are going to build product. It’s totally flipped on its head.”
There are many jokes in this new community, one of them being the Don’t Buy meme (with a small ‘m’). Jordan immediately bought the domain name dontbuymeme.com and now the website asks people to select don’t buy, don’t farm or don’t join Telegram.
There are, as normal, many anonymous people in the community but Jordan was named from the start.
“This puts some pressure on me. I’m trying to maintain my personal brand separately from my job in ConsenSys. I was, and still am, super keen that this was not going to end up in pump and dump territory.”
People in the fledgling community started to ask if $MEME could be the DOGE of DeFi, often reported to have one of the nicest communities in crypto.
“We started as a joke but people kept buying the token and sharing it in other groups. It spread like wildfire. I was worried it would go from ‘buy low, show, then dump’ very quickly. I kept on saying this was satire, and people would reply, yeah – Don’t buy – which quickly became our tagline and people kept on buying.”
The reaction to $MEME has been called a flash mob for DeFi.
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Another meme is the inclusion of a governance VIP area called Citadel, in itself a meme. People holding a specified number of tokens in the Telegram channel can automatically gain access to the Citadel where decisions are made as to the future direction of the token. When the token was launched VIPs had to hold 100 tokens to gain access, which was a very low investment initially – while the initial airdrop was 355 tokens. The number currently sitting in the Citadel is around 50 people. However, with weeks that price had grown to $1000 and shortly afterwards swept up to almost two thousand dollars. At the time of writing that has retrenched to just under the thousand-dollar mark where it seems to be sitting.
There already has been one fork early on, within days of $MEME launching but that spin off has crashed and burned. In another meme, tokens were sent to Vitalek Buterin. In the olden days of ICOs unused tokens tended to be burnt, now they are sent to Vitalek. In this case the LP tokens on Uniswap were sent to him.
Jordan is not sure what Vitalek will do with those tokens. “I am sure there are millions of dollars in there if he still has access to the wallet.”
$MEME is community first, product later. When the dust settled and the community there, Jordan and other active members began to ask what they were going to do. “We didn’t just want to be a token, we wanted to have a use, a product.”
Everyone pitched in their ideas. “We were pretty intentional about building something to play in the DeFi ecosystem. Farming came up but where? We wanted to find an unexplored vertical and we thought of NFTs. NFTs are awesome- so could we mint NFTs with yield farming?”
Jordan took on the role of overseer and a couple of very talented devs built an NFT farming platform in just ten days.
Think about that – in just ten days after the original tweet there was a live mainnet working on Ethereum that was pioneering NFT farming.
“It was insane.”
First up they engaged a well-known crypto artist @RektmeRev to create collectables based on real crypto people. Then the community decided to veer hard left from collectables and connect with fine art and real artists. Jordan approached Sven Eberwein, a Swedish artist working in digital art. He was very excited to become involved.
“This was moving very fast, again. We wanted to do something like Super Rare or Nifty but have people mine the NFTs instead of just buying them.”
Originally to buy an NFT you had to have between one and five $MEME. This was to stop the Whales swooping in and buying up everything. However, with the current price at just under a thousand this puts the entry level out of the hands of many people.
“We did not expect the price to rise so fast. We need to figure it out as our long-term goal is to onboard billions of people to DeFi. We need to be more accessible. But right now we are sticking with Art. I don’t think the community wants to move into concert tickets or similar, but I can’t say for sure as the community will decide.”
Jordan is also keen to repay the artists properly, it’s a community not a speculation fund. When the coin was first created everyone got an equal number, coins were not reserved for developers or funders. While hugely egalitarian and very transparent, it means there is not a fund to pay developers. All the work done so far was voluntary. However, only the day before, two people donated tokens – they said they had already made so much out of the project already and they wanted to donate back to the community.
Jordan remembers another meme before we finish the interview. “Oh, someone bought a couple of pizza early on for twenty dollars, pineapple pizza of course – but it’s now a thousand dollar pizza. Sound familiar?”