The year spewed forth tons of memeable material for crypto pundits.
First, there were the prices. If 2021 were the proverbial halcyon days, then 2022 was a sobering correction. Bitcoin more than halved over the course of the year, while its closest contender, Ethereum, was reduced by a factor of three.
There was also the wild implosion of Terra’s dollar-pegged UST in May, a so-called algorithmic stablecoin (meaning it claimed not to need the backing of hard cash)—an event so monumental that it triggered a wave of high-profile bankruptcies among crypto companies, like lenders Celsius, Vauld, Voyager, and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC).
Q4 presented us with the historic final act to the nail-biting drama of 2022: FTX’s collapse—possibly the most memed event in crypto history.
So, without further ado, Decrypt presents our memes of the year.
The year in crypto memes
With the benefit of hindsight, there were signs way back in late January that crypto fans would potentially be in for a troubling year ahead, when the market shaved almost half a trillion dollars from the global market cap in 24 hours.
Matthew Graham, CEO of crypto-native venture firm Sino Global Capital, memed the fury he saw over on Crypto Twitter.
A few days later, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautioned El Salvador to stop using Bitcoin as legal tender, arguing that while the country’s economy was shrinking, public debt was mounting, and the use of Bitcoin “entails large risks” that could halt the country’s recovery.
El Salvador’s authoritarian President Nayyib Bukele was having none of it.
That same month, we declared one meme our Meme Of The Week in a Decrypt weekend debrief email. The subject was Ethereum inventor and Foundation co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who was easily one of the most memed characters in the industry this year, as you can see by his original post that baited the meme.
In February, crypto investor Lark Davis shared a very popular meme that now sheds a bittersweet light on how optimistic people were feeling in those days of innocence.
In May, Do Kwon, the CEO of Singapore-based Terraform Labs, the parent company of the Terra blockchain and the UST and LUNA tokens, tried to downplay rumors that UST was about to slip its dollar peg with a meme.
With the benefit of hindsight, he didn’t quite know just how hard he was roasting his future self at the time.
Before release, newcomer blockchain Aptos touted itself as “the safest, most scalable layer-1 blockchain” and was dubbed by some as a “Solana killer.” However, the October launch was chaotic, to say the least.
Investors were put off by a hefty token allocation (49%) given to developers and private investors, giving rise to quips that Aptos was not for the common retail investor.
Fast-forward to Thanksgiving, and the crypto bros were done shilling their next layer-1 blockchain and had skipped over to touting inflation-protecting I bonds issued by none other than Uncle Sam.
The fall (and fall) of FTX in memes
By far the most memed event on Crypto Twitter this year (and possibly of all time) was the collapse of the centralized crypto FTX exchange.
It was all the more surprising given that when the contagion from Terra’s collapse began spreading, former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was the first billionaire to start opening their purse strings to bail companies out.
By early November, it became clear to everyone that FTX was having liquidity issues. The memes started flooding the day competitor Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, CEO of Binance, offered to acquire the beleaguered exchange.
Cardano creator Charles Hoskinson shared a popular meme about the proffered bailout. Can you guess the reference?
Many thought the offer would be history in the making, including the multi-chain NFT platform Magic Eden.
Bitcoin analyst Dylan LeClair got several thousand laughs for his meme:
That same day, Bitcoin investor Shaan Puri posted a long and popular deep dive into the FTX situation. In the midst of it, he shared an image of the crypto-themed pearly gates awaiting Bankman-Fried.
One BNB investor shared a mocked-up poster for a film about three of the biggest disaster stories of the year… and CZ.
Sam Bankman-Fried eventually broke his silence in several Twitter threads, repeatedly apologizing for the mass calamity he caused by his epic mismanagement of what was at its height a pretty humbling crypto empire. Sometimes sorry is not enough though, Sam.
A simple "sorry" wasn't enough to keep authorities away from Bankman-Fried, though, with the disgraced founder hit with eight criminal charges for his role in the exchange's collapses and its cozy ties with trading firm Alameda.
Still, he managed to enjoy the holiday season with his family thanks to a $250 million bond. He's due back in court in early January.