This past week, the SHIB army lost its commander when Ryoshi—the pseudonymous founder of the heralded cryptocurrency meme coin, Shiba Inu—mysteriously vanished from social media.
It was not without a trace. A profile apparently belonging to Ryoshi left two cryptic blog posts on Medium, totaling only five sentences, which seemed to bid farewell to Shiba Inu fans.
“Every Shibarmy is Ryoshi. It does not represent someone, but the glory of Shibarmy! . . . Take the SHIBA and journey upwards frens,” the profile wrote, using meme jargon for the word “friends.”
The coin first launched in August 2020, to challenge its rival meme token Dogecoin. In theory, it was somewhat about economics—surely, investors wanted the coins they’d spent pennies on to multiply 300-fold in worth, as Dogecoin did in 2021—but it was also about pride, and the sense of victory brought by a ragtag group of internet degenerates dethroning a reigning champion in a bootstrapped campaign, fueled by pure doggedness.
The war saw its highs and lows, and the SHIB army celebrated in October when SHIB finally surpassed DOGE among the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, after a yearly rise of 91,000,000%.
SHIB’s star may have burned bright and fast, but Ryoshi’s own evanescence was perhaps unsurprising for devoted followers. The crypto community boasts its fair share of megalomaniac founders—such as Terra Luna’s Do Kwon or Kraken’s Jesse Powell, who brand themselves as Web3 messiahs on Twitter and Discord—but Ryoshi has largely remained in the shadows. In a since-deleted Medium post, Ryoshi reportedly wrote: “I have said from the beginning, I am a nobody, I am not important. The efforts to unmask my ‘identity’ even if successful would be underwhelming. I am just some guy of no consequence tapping at a keyboard and I am replaceable.”
It’s reminiscent of enigmatic Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto—also famously pseudonymous—who originated the Web3 revolution a decade ago and whose identity remains a riddle to this day. And in a rapidly transforming industry, Ryoshi’s fate might represent divergence, perhaps, between those who seek personal glory and those who would rather let the people rule.
That is, if the rumors are true. Ryoshi’s Twitter account currently still exists, but its entire history of tweets has been deleted, and the Medium account with Ryoshi’s name and profile picture left only those two posts—although some speculate that Ryoshi’s real Medium account was deleted, and the current profile is merely a copycat created by a scammer.
Nevertheless, the project’s community leaders have vowed to carry on, with or without Ryoshi. Shytoshi Kusama, a longtime developer for the coin, wrote on Medium that, “The ethos of Ryoshi, to have no input on the direction of Shib, makes our mythos even more mystic and impressive. We’ve built from nothing, never paid an exchange for a listing, and revolutionized ‘meme’ tokens by growing exponentially.”
In the future, Kusama wrote, the SHIB army will continue its march toward global decentralization.
Despite the great crash in crypto assets earlier in May, SHIB is still up 27% from a year ago—a rarity in the decimated market.