There are over 1,700 dead cryptocurrency projects out of the nearly 20,000 that have been created since the industry began, according to a running list on 99bitcoins.com. Some of these projects were unsuccessful due to lack of user-friendliness or insufficient adoption, while others were blatant scams. Notable failed projects include Namecoin, which aimed to provide a decentralised domain name service; OneCoin, a Ponzi scheme that pulled in $4bn between 2014 and 2016 before its self-appointed CEO disappeared; and Bitconnect, which turned out to be a Ponzi scheme and cost US investors $2bn. The memecoin craze that peaked in 2021 also led to a number of failed projects.
Dead Coins: A Retrospective of Failed Crypto Projects
Cryptocurrency has seen an enormous rise in popularity over the past few years, with many investors jumping into the market in the hopes of striking it rich. According to CoinMarketCap, almost 20,000 cryptocurrencies have come into existence since the industry began. However, many of these projects have failed, with some of them completely forgotten by both the creators and diamond-handers who once invested in them. In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most notable failed crypto projects.
One of the original altcoins, Namecoin attempted to provide a decentralized domain name service and allowed users to register various parts of their identity like email or Bitcoin address. Its domains were much more secure and couldn’t be seized or censored. However, most felt Namecoin wasn’t very user-friendly. In the 2013 bull run, Namecoin reached a market cap of $100 million, dropping significantly during the crypto winter. Now, it has very weak trading volume and a market cap of $10 million.
Founded by the self-appointed crypto queen Ruja Ignatova, OneCoin touted itself as the Bitcoin killer. Later identified as a Ponzi scheme, OneCoin pulled in $4 billion between 2014 and 2016. Ignatova claimed OneCoin can be mined and used for payment, but there wasn’t actually a OneCoin blockchain or payment system. They also sold courses on crypto and investing. Basically, it was a pyramid scheme. When various governments became suspicious, Ignatova just disappeared, leaving her brother and co-founder to run the company. They were both arrested in November of 2019.
Bitconnect was released in 2016, allowing users to exchange Bitcoin for the BCC token, receiving an insanely high yield of 1% compounded daily interest. The price of BCC rose from its ICO price of 17¢ to an all-time high of $463. But everything came crashing down when the UK government sent Bitconnect an order to prove its legitimacy in November of 2017. Bitconnect shut down a few days later, and the price crashed 92%. The SEC sued Bitconnect its Indian founder Satishkumar Kumbhani and the American national promoter Glenn Arcaro, estimating they defrauded $2 billion from US investors. Now, the coin is worth nothing.
During the height of the bull run back in 2021, the memecoin craze reached full mania. DOGE was founded in December of 2013, likely to profit off the trend started by the long dead Feathercoin. But it really didn’t gain traction until people started buying it as a joke in the winter of 2020. And when Elon Musk began tweeting about it, it made a lot of millionaires seemingly overnight. In an attempt to make quick profits, everyone started putting out DOGE copycats, like Shiba Inu. These copycats were followed by even more absurd and vulgar coins like Squid Game and SafeMoon that capitalized on cultural touchstones.