Posted on

EXCLUSIVE – Dogecoin founder: “I turned down half a million dollars. Because f*** that”

Dogecoin founder Jackson Palmer has thrown down the gauntlet to the cryptocurrency community declaring that neither he nor his digital currency are for sale, despite huge offers of investment from Australian venture capitalists.

At an Australian meet-up on Thursday night organised via Reddit, where Dogecoin’s community was started, the Sydney-based founder told Techly he is also calling for government regulation of cryptocurrencies – a move that’s unlikely to make him any friends in the Bitcoin community.

For those not in the know, Dogecoin is an internet currency that features ‘Doge’, a Shiba Inu (breed of dog) from Japan, based on the popular internet meme, as its logo. The currency has gained traction as a tipping system whereby Reddit, Twitter and most recently Facebook users donate Dogecoin to each other as a reward for posting interesting or valuable content, or to introduce them to the system.

Unlike Bitcoin, which puts an artificial cap on how many coins can be mined, Dogecoin adds five billion coin worth of Dogecoin yearly after the first ‘cap’ of 100 billion coins are mined – which may be as early as the end of 2014. There are technical reasons behind this, important to the way the currency network verifies transactions.

“It’s a deflationary/inflationary model I like to jokingly call ‘Dogeflation’,” Palmer said.

“We’re trying to stabilise ourselves and get it to a point where it can be treated as a viable currency.”

Palmer said the internet has been crying out for a way of tangibly sending something valuable that can be reused over the internet. In the future, he envisions rather than being able to ‘Like’ something on Facebook (for example), you could tip a few Dogecoins.

“I honestly think it’s on its way to becoming the currency of the internet,” he said.

“This is the reason why, if you have a look at Facebook credits for example, all these different corporations try to force digital credit upon their users.

“That’s why if you try to put something on the Apple store or Facebook App Store at the moment it gets banned because they have their own credit systems they want to control or police and cash in on at the end of the day.

“That’s where Dogecoin fits in.

“The internet is asking for a currency akin to the US or Australian dollar that you can send to somebody else without having to worry about it and it’s more tangible than clicking a button and that person getting a notification that said I liked it.

“Ultimately that’s where I see it landing.

“When somebody likes something that I post it’s more tangible than a little bit of reputation. It’s not something that can be manufactured. It also costs the end user. That’s how a currency works. Or it should.

“The fact that if I post a cool song my friend loves, we can go to the bar on Friday and say ‘I bought you a beer with that’.

“I don’t think you’ll be buying cars, yachts, houses with this stuff, but micro transactions based off social media. Damn. That’s where it’s at.”

Dogecoin (or whatever comes after it) could be a great way for the internet community to give something back to the media outlets, musicians, artists, designers and others they admire, the founder ruminated.

“It addresses the hollowness of the internet,” he said. “At the moment… there are so many fake spam accounts out there that like all these different things.

“You really know who your friends even if they’re just tipping you 10 cents.”

Really it’s the Office Space theory. If consumers donate just a fraction of a cent to a person or organisation of their choosing, everyone makes money.

There exists a distinct rivalry between Bitcoin types and Dogecoin advocates.

Palmer characterised Bitcoin types as “an elitist little group you have to ask for an invite to, whereas Dogecoin is more a grassroots community thing.”

“You can go to a Bitcoin meet up and meet people who are like ‘I have 100 BitCoins, I’m a multimillionaire’,” he said.

“Dogecoin is the community’s currency, open to everyone, and that’s how I want to keep it.”

The big end of town wants in – but Palmer isn’t interested

It’s clear Palmer is totally disinterested in any short-term gain Dogecoin could afford him. A purist, he believes Dogecoin is “the internet’s currency” and end users will decide its success or failure.

In fact on Thursday, Palmer told Techly he turned down half a million dollars from two venture capitalist (VC) firms.

“I’ve been approached by VCs lately who want to cash in on this Dogecoin thing and they’re offering me what in reality is ridiculous amounts of money.

“And I’m sitting there quietly with them saying ‘I want to throw X amount of dollars at this’ and I’m like, ‘take a step back, it’s a dog on a coin’. Has the world gone mad?”

Techly can confirm Palmer met with one Australian VC firm, which shall remain nameless. A spokesperson did not discuss how much money the firm offered Palmer for Dogecoin but confirmed to Techly a meeting did indeed take place.

“The firm’s inquiries into Dogecoin are in the preliminary stage,” the spokesperson said.

Palmer claims a second meeting was held with a US firm, which has failed to return Techly’s emails for confirmation.

And if that throw down wasn’t already enough, Palmer has laid down the gauntlet to the Bitcoin community – which is fiercely anti-regulation – advocating for the Australian government (and others) to regulate and legitimise cryptocurrencies.

“I do ultimately think we need to regulate around this stuff otherwise you will not gain the trust of the average Joe who wants to put $100 into whatever digital currency they’re using.

“That said, we shouldn’t be putting all our faith in centralised institutions because that gets us to where we have landed today.

“The Canadian Government has already decided to regulate against cryptocurrencies and I think that’s absolutely awesome. The fact that a government is even talking about cryptocurrency in the first place is like, booyah. That’s a massive boon for the whole thing.”

Mr Palmer’s hope is that governments will learn about virtual currencies like Dogecoin, understand how they work and eventually see it’s a currency that is facilitating good.

Dogecoin recently raised $30,000 to pair service dogs with children in need and also raised $30,000 to send the Jamaican bobsled team to Sochi.

“That’s why I turned those guys down,” he said.

“A lot of investors come to me and they say ‘you know you could get rich off this, you can make millions. What are you going to tell your grandchildren in the future?’

“And I reply, ‘you know what I’m going to tell my grandkids? I’m going to tell them that we paired service dogs with children in need, off the back of a f***ing joke.’

“The fact is that out of nothing I can contribute $30,000 to a children’s charity that I believe in, that is payment enough.

“I don’t want anything more. I could leave tomorrow but the fact is I’ll be happy for the rest of my life. It’s all I want.”

By Claire Porter