Note

This blog was written on 8-May-2021, just before Elon Musk was due to host Saturday Night Live. All numbers assessed are using data before 8-May-2021, and may not reflect the current value of Dogecoin, or any events since this date. Given the highly volatile nature of both the cryptocurrency and the celebrity involved, this blog may not reflect the present situation very well at all...

Dogecoin

For those who may not know, Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency that was started as a bit of an internet joke during the inital boom of cryptocurrencies between 2010-2015. Its mascot is the Shiba Inu dog and aside from that, there is little to differentiate it from other cryptocurrencies. However, it has had some popular celebrity endorsements from the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Cuban, which appear to have boosted its popularity and value.

Furthermore, the advent of mainstream retail investors from the growing number of stock-trading apps available have meant that accessibility is no longer the blocker it once was, which has flooded the markets with fresh investment. This, in turn, has led to the rise of so-called "Meme-stocks", where investment ideas can become popular on the internet, generating hype and leading to lots of people trying to buy particular assets, which pushes up the asset's price. These price changes can occur very quickly and can be very extreme - remember the GameStop situation in January?

These factors, coupled with the fact that cryptocurrency has had a bumper 12 months over the pandemic, have seen Dogecoin end up with a market cap of around $70bn - more than some of the biggest companies in the world, including Ford Motors and BP! Whether the currency truly represents this much purchasing power is another subject entirely.

Dogecoin Value in 2021

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the eccentric CEO of Tesla, as well as some of the other highly-innovative tech companies out there (SpaceX, Neuralink, formerly PayPal, etc.). The title of "World's Richest Person" currently flip-flops between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, depending on how their relative companies are currently performing in the stock market. Elon is also quite active on social media, which has gotten him into trouble on more than one occasion.

Elon Musk has regularly tweeted of his affinity for Dogecoin. It has been pointed out before that the value of Dogecoin seems to change when Elon tweets about it, so I wanted to dig into it to determine whether there is just correlation, or causation as well. Are his tweets causing the changes in value, or does he just tweet about it because the value is changing?

The Data

Right - using the Twitter API, I downloaded all of Elon Musk's tweets since January and compared that with minute-by-minute finance data for Dogecoin. For every tweet that mentions "Doge", I have charted the crypto's price for the 30 minutes before and the 90 minutes after each tweet. These are shown below:

Note: It's important to note the scale of the y-axis on each chart. I tried plotting everything on a single axis but as the currency has appreciated by around x100 in that time, a lot of the changes (although large in relative terms) are too small in absolute terms to be noticeable at that scale.

First Look

So - it seems clear that often, Elon Musk's tweets do in fact happen before large changes in the currency's value. Furthermore, there appears to be very little delay between the tweets being sent and the change in value, so it seems unlikely that another factor is driving the change, unless it was occurring at exactly the same time as the tweets (in which case, the tweets are de-facto driving the change).

Another interesting observation is that the changes are much more pronounced when the tweet is an original Elon Musk tweet - not a reply* or a retweet*. For those unfamiliar with Twitter, tweets sent as a reply generally are not distributed to all followers, so their outreach is usually markedly less than that of original tweets.

* Replies begin with '@' symbol. Retweets begin with 'RT'.

Quantifying the Changes

For each tweet, let's use the last Dogecoin value before the tweet as the baseline, and compare that to the maximum value it reaches in the 90 minutes after the tweet was sent. This should give an indication of how much of an effect each tweet has had.

On average, each of Elon Musk's original tweets about Dogecoin caused changes of 11% in the value of the currency, while reply tweets caused changes averaging 2.4%.

Tweet ID Tweet Time Tweet Price Before Price After % Change
1 06-Feb 08:42:25 @Grimezsz Dogecake 0.0488 0.0494 1.33
2 08-Feb 05:27:36 "@itsALLrisky Doge appears to be inflationary, but is not meaningfully so (fixed # of coins per unit time), whereas BTC is arguably deflationary to a fault. Transaction speed of Doge should ideally be a few orders of magnitude faster." 0.07305 0.07320 0.20
3 10-Feb 15:08:11 Bought some Dogecoin for lil X, so he can be a toddler hodler 0.0698 0.0808 15.76
4 11-Feb 09:08:33 "Frodo was the underdoge, All thought he would fail, Himself most of all. https://t.co/zGxJFDzzrM" 0.0722 0.0743 2.90
5 11-Feb 23:27:37 @gtera27 Doge is underestimated 0.0694 0.0701 0.94
6 20-Feb 08:42:28 @dogecoin I just set up some little Doge mining rigs with my kids. It was fun. 0.0560 0.0602 7.54
7 20-Feb 10:06:29 @PPathole @dogecoin Just some used Antminer L3+ rigs bought off eBay. Not really economic, but it was a fun family project. 0.0580 0.0580 -0.08
8 01-Mar 19:57:08 Doge meme shield (legendary item) https://t.co/CeomU9q84c 0.0497 0.0514 3.38
9 02-Mar 08:36:34 @draecomino 2022: Dogecoin is dumb 0.0509 0.0514 0.93
10 02-Mar 21:07:09 "@WootiezTV Very much so & its leader shall be The Doge https://t.co/VXmuW5c0y9" 0.0500 0.0504 0.78
11 06-Mar 04:40:30 Doge spelled backwards is Egod 0.0497 0.0523 5.31
12 25-Mar 07:33:56 @dogecoinww @MattWallace888 @CorinnaKopf You raise a good point haha 0.0514 0.0517 0.48
13 01-Apr 10:25:23 SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon 0.0542 0.0701 29.34
14 08-Apr 20:45:19 @dogeofficialceo @WatchersTank @SpaceX Looking at pups soon! 0.0607 0.0611 0.63
15 14-Apr 22:19:48 @dogeofficialceo @F9Block5 🤣🤣 0.1273 0.1306 2.61
16 14-Apr 22:32:57 @AstroJordy @dogeofficialceo @F9Block5 Insanely cute! 0.1268 0.1296 2.22
17 15-Apr 04:28:47 @WSBChairman Doge Barking at the Moon – Miro https://t.co/1vTM2XOusy 0.1280 0.1419 10.90
18 15-Apr 04:33:18 Doge Barking at the Moon https://t.co/QFB81D7zOL 0.1280 0.1420 10.11
19 15-Apr 21:10:47 @sadiaslayy @DogecoinBets 😮 0.1809 0.1869 3.28

Conclusions

Elon Musk's tweets regularly occur very shortly before some dramatic changes in Dogecoin's value, so it seems there is causation.

Original tweets seem to result in much larger increases in the value than tweets sent in reply, which reinforces the idea that exposure to Elon Musk's tweets is driving price changes.

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