‘You Can't Buy Culture’: BNB Chain Offers $1 Million for Memes of Its Own

BNB Chain, the Binance-created blockchain network, is attempting to become a more relevant player in crypto’s ongoing meme coin frenzy—by enticing developers with cash prizes. 

On Tuesday, BNB Chain announced a “Meme Innovation Battle” initiative, which will split a pool of up to $1 million in rewards among developers who create meme coins on the network that reach certain (massive) trading milestones. 

Participants in the competition will have until next Tuesday to register. Then, over the course of a month, partaking meme coins will jockey for popularity among users. The criteria for “best” meme coin will depend 50% on total trading volume reached by May 10, 40% on the number of valid token holders reached, and 10% on market capitalization. 

At the month’s end, BNB Chain will then announce the top 10 best-performing coins, and assess the trading volume attained by all participating meme coins. If all tokens collectively surpass $30 billion in trading volume, then the pool of rewards split among the top 10 performing coins will be $1 million.

The competition’s rewards structure is based on a sliding scale determined by trading volume; if all meme coins in the competition only hit $10 billion in trading, for example, then the rewards pool shrinks to $300,000. 

Courtesy: BNB Chain

The single top-performing meme coin in the battle will receive 40% of the rewards pool. Second place will receive 30%, third place will receive 15%, and the remaining 15% of cash left will be split equally among finishers in fourth to 10th place. 

In the last few months, meme coins have amassed huge amounts of capital and interest as the crypto market steadily emerges from a multi-year winter. 

The overwhelming majority of meme coin hype and investment this cycle has been concentrated, however, on chains like Solana—which produced meme coin titans Dogwifhat and BONK—and Ethereum-based scaling networks including Base, which has been home to such lighthearted experiments as Poopcoin, a token from the co-founder of the Doodles NFT collection.

Meme coins tend to be, by their nature, organic phenomena that grow from the seeds of news events, shock value stunts, and viral online trends. Often, there can be little predicting which meme coins will rise to multi-billion dollar valuations, and which will fall on their face. They’re crypto’s closest barometer, simply put, of what’s cool.  

So a corporate initiative to induce such sensations with an elaborate incentives structure might face an uphill climb. Some Twitter users said as much, in their lukewarm responses to BNB Chain’s announcement. “You can’t buy culture,” tweeted Solana co-founder Raj Gokal.

The blockchain network would not be the first to attempt to pay its way into cultural conversations. Early last year, Polygon Labs paid the creators of popular NFT brand y00ts a $3 million grant to move the collection from Solana onto Polygon. 

The gambit, Polygon’s then-president Ryan Wyatt told Decrypt at the time, was to jumpstart Polygon’s sagging NFT ecosystem with a flashy acquisition.

“If you don’t have any reputation in the space, you go get people that do,” Wyatt said.  

The top-down approach to generating culture didn’t work out so well. Within months, y00ts returned the $3 million just to be able to go back to Solana, where an organic NFT ecosystem continued to flourish. Ryan Wyatt, meanwhile, was replaced by new leadership as Polygon Labs shifted away from courting established corporate brands and crypto projects alike.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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