This text initially appeared on Priceonomics..

Memes have obtained loads of consideration following the stunning outcomes of elections throughout the globe in 2016—and the fiercely fought campaigns main as much as them. Sharing photographs and making cultural allusions had been each widespread actions lengthy earlier than moving into heated political arguments with relations over the web was. 

However making these allusions in white block lettering superimposed on acquainted photographs—the common-or-garden picture macro—has burst past a distinct segment web passion and thrust memes of all types into standard consciousness.

It’s solely human, then, that somebody would begin a market to invest on completely different memes’ futures. The merchants of the subreddit r/MemeEconomy speculate on which memes will develop into standard, and that are headed towards obscurity. They’re, because the subreddit identify would counsel, on their method to making a “Meme Economic system.”

Naturally, we wish to know who the largest winner is among the many meme merchants of r/MemeEconomy. If the Meme Economic system thrives right into a monetary market, who on this discussion board is its Warren Buffett?

We analyzed information from Priceonomics buyer, a search engine that indexing memes and their reputation over time. From throughout the web we gathered cases that every meme was posted. We seemed on the positions that the merchants took between February 28 and April 27 on Reddit, after which analyzed whether or not these memes had been rising or falling in our index.

The evaluation we current here’s a start line for calculating returns within the Meme Economic system, however not at all the ultimate phrase. A part of the reason being meme market goes by way of drastic, sudden swings. The market elevated 389% from February 28 by way of April 26, then fell 85% from April 26 to April 27. Due to that, the outcomes we current listed here are very delicate to the time interval we’re analyzing. 

That mentioned, throughout this time we checked out, 25 merchants posted beneficial properties, 7 merchants had no beneficial properties or losses, and 25 misplaced on their calls. 21 merchants outperformed the market’s shifting common development. The very best performing dealer, reddit consumer itsyaboieon, had a 1433% return.


We started by trying on the exercise stage of the general meme market. We checked out each meme mentions in r/MemeEconomy and seemed whether or not the tag related to that meme was rising or falling within the search index. We listed whole posts to start out at 100 on February 28, and plotted the everyday will increase and reduces available in the market. 

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The recognition of the traded memes posted each day swings wildly. 

Meme posting quantity can fall by half, solely to get better their losses after which some inside a single week. The market posted a peak return of 389% on April 26. It closed April 27 at 72.7% of its beginning worth, a 85% drop from the excessive the day earlier than. The market contains many alternative memes. 

To learn the way effectively the merchants carried out available in the market, we wanted to look into modifications in postings for particular person memes.

We used the variety of each day postings because the going-rate for a meme, and tracked the merchants’ positions over the interval. Any open positions are valued at their April 27 worth. We then decided the achieve on merchants’ calls so we might calculate the % return every dealer generated. 

The highest dealer timed the meme market, returning the unique funding 14 instances over. Meme dealer itsyaboieon’s staggering 1433.three% improve is almost twice the scale of second-place investor GavinOriginals’ 800% achieve. Like in different markets, the returns fall off sharply after the highest few performers. Fifth-place dealer Vipe777 is the bottom ranked who greater than doubles the unique funding. The subsequent highest 15 earned between 21.four% and 95.2% returns—much better than curiosity on financial savings accounts, however a fraction of the highest earnings.

We needed to see what predictions supplied itsyaboieon with such atmospheric returns. He positioned a purchase name on April 11 for texting, and held onto it by way of April 27. We graphed how the texting meme had carried out in comparison with its posting frequency on February 28.

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The meme had doubled on three separate events between February 28 and April 11, when itsyaboieon positioned the decision to purchase. Every time it fell again right down to beneath beginning worth. Little greater than two weeks after itsyaboieon predicted the texting meme would develop, it shot up past 9 instances its beginning worth. That sudden development generated itsyaboieon’s chart-topping 1433% return. 

The highest 20 merchants all noticed their fortunes improve, however we needed to understand how they in comparison with the remaining. We break up the vary of dealer performances into six evenly-spaced teams, and counted up what number of fell into every group. We used completely different colours to separate the highest merchants from the remaining. 

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Buying and selling outcomes match into a traditional bell-shaped curve. Over half the merchants fell into the center two groupings, which vary from reducing by 50% to rising by 50%.  Solely 7 of the 57 merchants tracked had returns or losses bigger than their authentic investments. Outdoors of the highest 20, there have been 12 extra merchants who prevented losses on their positions. The market received the higher of the 25 worst performing merchants, who would have extra had they buried their meme cash.

Excessive performing merchants outperformed others a number of instances over. Do excessive performing memes outpace the market as a complete? We needed to know, so we recognized the highest 10% highest development memes, and calculated the % change in combination each day posts from February 28 for that group and for your complete market.  Then, we drew a line graph displaying how these modifications various from everyday. 

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The general market swung increased and decrease from everyday, however on common ended across the similar quantity because it started. The High Decile Memes Portfolio, then again, skilled huge development. High memes ended 183.5% increased than they started, peaking at beneficial properties of 1392.four% on April 26. The market crashed abruptly on April 27, erasing a lot of the High Decile Memes Portfolio’s beneficial properties and shaving the general market right down to 72.7% of the place it began.

Meme reputation modifications rapidly. Virtually no meme steadily seems with extra frequency. Investing in memes presents enormous rewards to energetic buyers with eager instincts, and practically nothing for buyers trying to purchase and maintain. We needed to see how giant portfolios of memes carried out in comparison with the highest buyers. We took the % achieve for each the general market and the High Decile Memes Portfolio as of April 27, and ranked them with the beneficial properties that the highest 20 merchants made.  

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Whereas solely the perfect merchants outperformed the high-growth memes, 37 merchants beat the general market. The market ended down 27%, nonetheless outperforming 20 merchants. As seen earlier, 25 merchants misplaced their shirts attempting to time the market. Our High Decile Memes Portfolio compares favorably with the median meme dealer, who earned a return of zero%.

How do particular person merchants beat the market—even outperforming the very best development memes—by a lot? Memes usually go viral, seemingly popping up in a single day. They’ll develop into stale rapidly, and virtually disappear solely. We seemed into modifications in each day posts over the 60 days we tracked to search out the memes that grew and shrank essentially the most.

The 2 top-growing memes, Arby’s and backyard sports, appeared 18 instances extra usually on April 27 in comparison with on February 28. Some memes that had been obscure on the finish of February had been displaying up steadily 60 days later, different memes fell from common use over that point. Memes that shrank essentially the most—like first ranked meme of the month or runner up why not visit—practically stopped showing, dropping over 90%. 


We investigated the Meme Economic system, and calculated the beneficial properties and losses of the merchants on r/MemeEconomy for the interval between February 28 and April 27. A bit of over half the merchants made worthwhile calls, and the perfect made their investments again many instances over. In comparison with the very best incomes dealer, itsyaboieon, even a portfolio of the highest-growth memes presents modest returns. Memes can burst into frequent use over a brief period of time, and slip into obscurity simply as rapidly.

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