Monday, January 6, 2014

Tulipmania 2014 - Coinye West (for those who find Bitcoin too stodgy)

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of economic history is well aware of "Tulipmania," and is always on the lookout for a modern counterpart. Back in 2008, the whole Web 2.0 thingie was a candidate for Tulipmania 2.0, but some of these companies have proven to be viable - at lest in the short term.

These days, it appears that the next Tulipmania may occur in the alternative currency realm. Some alternative currencies, such as the Brixton Pound, have not exhibited the Tulipmania characteristic of appreciating to dizzying heights. Bitcoin, of course, has had its ups and downs.

But what of the Bitcoin wannabes?

In a few days, another Bitcoin wannabe is going to emerge - "Coinye West." If you have lived under a rock for the past few years and have never heard of Taylor Swift, Daft Punk, or the Kardashian family, I should explain that the name "Coinye West" is a play on the name of musician Kanye West.

So why do I think that this will be the Tulipmania candidate?

First, people are talking about it. Perhaps it's not being praised as the next big thing, but publicity is publicity, and if you love Daft Punk and the Kardashians but are meh on Ms. Swift, then perhaps you'll want to show your love for Kanye by buying the currency.

Which brings us to the second issue. On the surface, this sounds like a great publicity play. Mr. West thinks highly of himself, so why not create his own currency? (I'm surprised that P.R. Nelson - I mean Prince - didn't think of this first.)

There's only one problem - it appears that Kanye West has nothing to do with Coinye West, if this tweet is any indication.

@kanyewest Kanye, have you ever invested in bitcoin or litecoin? What do you think of @CoinyeWest ?

This was tweeted by @CoinyeWest on December 31, 2013. As of Sunday evening, West has yet to reply - which indicates to me that West is not in on this particular endeavor. In addition, the fact that the website is anonymously registered in Panama seems to indicate that Mr. West is not involved.

This means that someone other than Kanye West is profiting from "Coinye West."

Can you say trademark infringement?

Kanye himself is no stranger to trademark infringement, having created a character named "Evel Kanyevel" who did motorcycle stunts. A man named Evel Knievel, famous for motorcycle stunts, didn't take kindly to this, although West and Knievel settled their differences before Knievel's death.

I wonder if Kanye West would be interested in being on the other side of one of these lawsuits, especially if the alternative currency makes him look bad.

Would you invest in a currency whose very name may be the subject of a lawsuit?
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