Iggy Azalea earns crypto as her ‘memecoin’ makes $194 million in one week

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Iggy Azaela Crypto GettyImages 1233453307

Iggy Azalea knows the power of a meme. Wednesday afternoon is the Grammy-nominated rapper shared a photoshopped image of herself breastfeeding Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum. The caption: “He was just hangry.”

The meme was intended to troll Buterin who followed his reprimand of her Solana-based “memecoin,” Mother Iggy ($MOTHER), which started trading last week. Celebrities should only launch cryptocurrencies to serve “some kind of public good,” rather than “financialization as an end product,” he wrote.

Memecoins are an ironic subculture of crypto. Anyone can launch a coin in the name of anything. Merging finance, internet trends and gambling, investors flock to the highly speculative assets during viral moments.

“I don’t think peace is very profitable when it comes to the memecoin landscape,” Azalea said in an interview with Fortune. “It’s what drives virality, it drives my community, and it drives our market cap, and that’s what I’m here to do. So respectfully get out of the way.”

‘Cash rules, make my own rules’

Six years after rapping the texts “Cash rules, make my own rules,” Azalea does, well, just that. After its first week of trading, Mother Iggy’s stock has risen 1,200% to around $0.20, reaching a market capitalization of more than $190 million. according to to CoinMarketCap from June 7.

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This underlines a broader trend of celebrities turning to memecoins to generate income and engage with their fanbase without a middleman. While some may find the trend off-putting, it seems to be both profitable and an effective way for some celebrities to find their way back into the spotlight.

“I’ve listened to more Iggy Azalea in the last few days than I have at any point in the last decade. Maybe there’s a lesson in that,” said Teddy Fusaro, president of Bitwise Asset Management. Fortune.

The launch of Mother Iggy was both coincidental and deliberate. After noticing a scammer on Telegram posing as Azeala to launch a memecoin, she was forced into action. “If this man says he’ll launch my coin in 24 hours, I’ll launch mine in 23 hours,” she said.

But since 2020, she has been observing crypto from the sidelines. When she saw non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Web3 art projects come and go, she knew there was something for her in the industry – she just wasn’t sure what. Memecoins felt like a trend fueled by a language they spoke.

“I’m someone who has naturally had so many memes over the course of my career; things go viral on purpose or accidentally. I felt like it was a space that I could really work with in a successful way,” she said.

Memecoins are considered the currency of microtrends and have themselves become the trend of crypto’s most recent renaissance, arguably taking over the role that NFTs played during the previous bull market. According to CoinGecko data, the value of the popular Pepe ($PEPE) and Shiba Inu ($SHIB) has increased by 363% and 201% respectively in the past year. Some of this year’s craziest successes? Jeo Boden, Doland Tremp, MAGA Hat, Elawn Moosk and even Good Gensler as they take the piss out of SEC Chairman Gary Gensler.

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Economic nihilism?

Omid Malekan, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, explained Fortune that he sees memecoins as the “ultimate proof” that blockchain technology is the financial infrastructure for the digital age. “Where else can celebrities release fan items without having to go through a gatekeeper and reach so many people?” he says.

But as with all forms of democratization, it is one corner of cryptocurrency where scams often occur. Issuers can fund themselves large amounts of money, promote the coin to make the price rise, and then pull it aside.

“These celebrity-backed coins are a scam and will go to zero pretty quickly. While anyone should be able to use any platform, these coins omit material information, are misleading and often violate securities laws,” said Terrence Yang, Managing Director at Swan. Fortune.

But Azalea insists she’s not a carpet puller. She says she wants to find a long-term use for the coin and thinks the celebrity buzz gives the retail industry a way to connect with Solana. The two startups she co-founded – a contract-free phone data provider and a gifting and crowdfunding site – will allow customers to pay with Mother Iggy coins. But her ultimate goal is to turn Mother Iggy into a stablecoin. “That would be the Holy Grail,” she says.

But not every memecoin project has been a success, suggesting that a large online following is no guarantee for investors. Last week, Caitlyn Jenner ($JENNER) also reached Solana, but it was overshadowed by Azalea and reached a market cap of less than $10 million, with only 7% growth in the past week.

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In the realm of critical memecoin theory, Azalea theorizes two pillars of success. One of them is the willingness to participate in the crypto community where they are. In her case, the former involved creating a Telegram channel within days of trading. The second is playfulness – limited to Azalea’s provocative memes – and leveraging crypto’s troll culture.

So instead of memecoins becoming a common tool in the celebrity arsenal, Azalea predicts there will only be a handful that can strike the right note and generate revenue.

Another obstacle celebrities may face is regulation. Malekan argues that unlike Bitcoin or Ether, memecoins should be legally treated as gambling, “otherwise it will be very easy for celebrities to take advantage of having their own namecoin and treat it as a cash grab,” he adds to it. He wants issuers to be transparent about how much they have retained and the high potential for volatility.

But ultimately he sees the growth of memecoins, meme stocks and gambling as indicators of economic nihilism: “People feel like they have to do risky things with their money to get ahead.”

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