Vitalik Buterin, co-creator of the crypto network Ethereum, donated more than $1 billion on Wednesday to a relief fund to battle the spread of Covid-19 in India.
At least, it was $1 billion when he made the donation-in a cryptocurrency that few had heard of and whose value plunged right after news of the donation spread.
In more standard terms, the donation would rank among the philanthropy’s largest strokes. But little is conventional: The currency, Shiba Inu coin, has been around for less than a year, and is one of a bevy of alternative cryptocurrencies that have escalated in popularity and price in recent months. Its value changes fiercely by the hour. Unlike with cash, or even bitcoin, it is hard to use Shiba Inu coins to buy things.
The most important alt-coin is dogecoin, created as a joke in the trend for bitcoin counterparts. Shiba Inu is a joke on a joke, named for the dog breed that is the dogecoin’s mascot.