Like Bitcoin, Ether has experienced some wild price fluctuations over the course of its short life, as you can see above. But its price has stayed at a more reasonable level — currently hovering around $2,500, compared to Bitcoin’s $35,000.
Of course, Bitcoin and Ethereum are just the most prominent two out of many thousands of cryptocurrencies available to investors today.
The others tend to fit into one of two classifications…
“Stablecoins” and “Shitcoins”
The two cryptocurrencies profiled above both have lofty goals. Bitcoin is trying to provide an alternative to fiat currency, while Ethereum is trying to provide an alternative to the entire financial system.
Many other cryptocurrencies, however, have much more modest agendas. In fact, some are simply trying to provide a stable store of value.
These “stablecoins,” as they are known, peg their market value to some reserve asset, which might be a commodity like gold or a fiat currency like the US dollar.
The third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, after Bitcoin and Ethereum, is a US-dollar-pegged stablecoin called Tether.
Tether was launched in 2014 by entrepreneurs Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars. It currently trades for the unsurprising price of $1.00 and has a market cap of more than $62 billion.
Other cryptocurrencies have less coherent goals than stablecoins — and some have no particular goal at all. These “shitcoins,” as the cryptocurrency community calls them, are cryptocurrencies that have no discernable purpose and exist only to serve as speculative investments, memes, or jokes.
Even though they serve no particular purpose, shitcoins can still make early or luckily-timed speculators very wealthy. The prime example of a shitcoin is Dogecoin (DOGE), a joke cryptocurrency launched by engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer in 2013.
Dogecoin takes its name and logo from the “Doge” meme, a photo of a chubby Shiba Inu dog that is ubiquitous on social media. Markus and Palmer have explicitly said that they created the cryptocurrency as a joke, and that its only purpose is to satirize the wildly speculative and meme-driven nature of early-2010s cryptocurrency markets.