Vitalik Buterin’s Shiba Inu pyjamas – a peace offering?

Dan Ashmore
Dan Ashmore February 22, 2022
Updated 2022/02/22 at 9:46 AM
6 Min Read

The largest Ethereum event in the world, EthDenver, concluded yesterday. For ten days, some of the brightest minds on the planet gathered in Denver, presenting and discussing all kinds of topics related to Ethereum.

Still only six years old, but already at a market cap of $328 billion, the world’s second biggest crypto offers technology that has facilitated all kinds of thrilling applications such as NFTs, DAOs and the launch of other cryptocurrencies, to name a few. So naturally, the day after the event has concluded, I want to discuss a pair of pyjamas.

@WatcherGuru posted the above snap on Twitter from the EthDenver conference

Remember, we live in a world where Elon Musk can move markets on a whim. So, you could be forgiven for thinking that the sight of Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin rolling through EthDenver donning pyjamas adorned with little Shiba Inu puppies could have a knock-on effect in the doggy token market.

Surprisingly, however, Shiba didn’t ramp. In fact, it continued to lull.

via TradingView

Hmmm. In truth, I’m a little proud of the crypto markets. Maybe we are maturing a little! Then again, a tweet probably likely carries more weight than a pair of PJs. There was no explicit endorsement, no call to action from Vitalik. Still, I’m curious as to why he chose the outfit. Was he just trolling? Amusing himself? Probably, it’s just little out of character coming from him – especially when assessing his topsy turvy relationship with the Shiba Inu community.

The Story

You’ll recall that last year, there was brief hysteria in the markets when Vitalik looked ready to “dump” the 50% of Shiba tokens which had been sent to him by the anonymous founder, Ryoshi, when Shiba was launched back in August 2020.

Started as a joke token inspired by Dogecoin, half the supply was sent to Vitalik, likely done on a whim; a tribute to one of the greatest minds in crypto, while seen as a funny way to “burn” (remove from supply) half the supply. And for a while, as Shiba grew steadily, that’s the way it worked – a proxy burn wallet. Vitalik likely had no idea the coins were in his wallet, or what Siba even was.

Of course, we all know what happened next. Shiba pumped north of a $14 billion market cap, and suddenly Vitalik was facing a very real moral dilemma over what to do with the approximate $7 billion dollars that he now sat on. If he sold, it would undoubtedly tank the market price, leaving investors holding the bag. But could he really sit there on billions and billions of dollars while so many around the world were struggling to make ends meet?

He decided he couldn’t, preceding to donate a billion dollars worth of SHIBA to the Indian COVID relief fund. Broadcast live on the blockchain, Vitalik’s transaction sent the Shiba price into freefall as the market feared Vitalik was about to donate his entire stack – “Vitalik is dumping on us!”.

The Dilemma

I really felt for Vitalik in a way. It’s a mind-boggling amount of power for one person to hold; he never asked for that immense responsibility – the tokens were sent to him without consent, when nobody even knew what Shiba was. It was a colossal amount of money that could help a lot of people, regardless of whether the coin’s founder sent him the amount with the expectation that he would just burn the tokens.

“I don’t want to be a locus of power of that kind” – Vitalik Buterin

The Shiba community was incensed. But Vitalik subsequently burned the remaining tokens which he held, somewhat redeeming himself to the Shiba faithful. The market stabilised and the price recovered (it even rocketed to a new all time high five months later, sitting at a $40 billion market cap).

So…What do the Pyjamas Actually Mean?

It’s a crazy tale, but with Vitalik sporting Shiba pyjamas at the conference, it looks like he has made peace with the chaotic meme coin. There doesn’t appear to be any deeper meaning, aside from Vitalik just goofing around. The market also seems to agree, looking at the muted price response. So perhaps it should merely be viewed as a light-hearted conclusion to how a stranger-than-fiction story of how a 27 year-old computer whizz became the reluctant protagonist in a surreal tale tying together doggy memes, thousands of overnight millionaire investors and a country struggling under the weight of a COVID crisis.

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