From tungsten cubes to ape statues – the meme-ification of finance is being taken to strange new heights

Harambe
Harambe. Jeff McCurry/Cincinnati Zoo/Reuters
  • Finance memes have gotten weirder since making their big debut earlier this year.
  • One $US25 ($AU33) billion company referenced marijuana when it raised $US420 ($AU557) million.
  • And crypto traders have become obsessed with Tungsten cubes and dog-inspired coins.

If you thought the meme-stock craze in January was strange, then brace yourself – it’s gotten a whole lot weirder.

The thousands of retail traders mobilized on social media sites like Reddit, Twitter, and Twitch, have taken the meme-ification of finance to a new level.

Take the number 420 for example. (Yes, the number referencing April 20, the well-known day of celebration for marijuana enthusiasts).

You probably remember the infamous 2018 tweet from Tesla Chief Elon Musk that said he’d take the EV-maker private if the stock price hit $US420 ($AU557). The tweet, though perhaps a joke, got him in trouble with regulators.

Today that number, once an easy jab that might elicit an “lol” from listeners, became the foundation for a $US25 ($AU33) billion company’s latest funding round.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the chief executive officer of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, raised $US420 ($AU557) million in the latest round of funding. How many investors did he get exactly? 69. That’s another meme favorite number, though more raunchy.

One has to wonder, as the Wall Street Journal reported, if FTX left any money on the table in an effort to attain these iconic meme numbers. FTX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s question on the matter.

While those numbers are indeed iconic, they are dwarfed by – literally – an even larger meme: Harambe.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s infamous gorilla was shot and killed when a small child fell into his enclosure in 2016. The controversy eventually faded, but Harambe as a meme never did.

Today, retail traders backing companies like AMC and GameStop, among others, refer to themselves as apes. AMC even decided to start donating to the Fossey Gorilla Fund, which helps endangered gorillas in Africa.

It gets more bizarre. On Oct. 20, a group set up a 7-foot (2.13m)-tall statue of Harambe to stare down Wall Street’s iconic charging bull. The bull was also surrounded by thousands of bananas. Social network Sapien coordinated the installation to show just how “bananas” Wall Street has become.

Things are, indeed, bananas.

Shiba inu started as a meme of another meme and is now the 10th-largest cryptocurrency in the world with a market value surpassing Robinhood, which hasn’t listed the coin on its app despite a petition from traders.

The coin has risen about 145% in the last seven days as more sophisticated investors and retail traders known as the SHIB army have driven the price higher.

If the wealth behind a cartoon-dog inspired coin isn’t proof enough of the meme-ification of finance, how about tiny metal cubes that crypto traders are obsessed with?

Tungsten cubes, with their small size and surprising heaviness, have gone viral among crypto traders in recent weeks. So much so, that prices have surged with a 4-inch (10cm) cube weighing about 40 pounds (18kg) selling for $US3,000 ($AU3,976) from Midwest Tungsten.

Now crypto traders are bidding for a chance to own an NFT of a 2,000-pound (907kg) Tungsten cube and the right to visit the physical asset once a year. The rallying cry among the tungsten-crazed community has been “we like the cube,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The meme market will continue to get weirder.

Take the latest cryptocurrency project based on the Netflix hit show Squid game – its market value is now worth nearly $US200 ($AU265) million, CNBC reported.

And Elon Musk has already alluded to the possibility of bitcoin hitting $US69,000 ($AU91,444) and ethereum hitting $US4,200 ($AU5,566). Who knows what the meme world will come up with on that day?