Animals have made big money in crypto, to some investors’ chagrin. Take the Shiba Inu dog whose picture became a famous internet meme and inspired Dogecoin, the first meme-based coin, for instance. Championed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Dogecoin had a meteoric rise earlier this year. Its market cap approached US$90 billion in April,  sparking industry concerns that the joke coin was undermining crypto credibility

Two anonymous German investors have taken the four-legged creature inspiration one leap forward, however, in allowing their hamster, Mr. Goxx, to dictate small crypto buys and sells. In the process, the furry pet is stealing the global spotlight. Although scarcely the size of a human palm, Mr. Goxx is earning big returns in the crypto market. The hamster has raked in a 16% return as of Tuesday, in under four months of trading. But its owners say Mr. Goxx’s story is a lesson for investors chasing easy money.

So how exactly does a hamster trade cryptocurrencies? Mr. Goxx lives in a cage that has been transformed into a miniature office space furnished with a tiny desk, a hamster wheel and two makeshift tunnels labelled “Buy” and “Sell.” 

Mr. Goxx initiates a transaction by running on the hamster wheel, dubbed the “intention wheel,” which is connected to an automatic rolodex featuring dozens of cryptocurrencies. To select a crypto to trade, Mr. Goxx runs on the wheel and when the wheel stops spinning, the pointer lands on a crypto. 

Next, an order is placed according to the tunnel Mr. Goxx runs through. If he runs through the Buy tunnel, a buy order for the crypto is placed automatically and the trade is recorded on screens on his Twitch TV channel. Although the money is real, the sums are not large. The system Mr. Goxx’s owners set up allows for US$13 to US$35 per buy or sell trade. Mr. Goxx enjoys flexible working hours in an office that is directly connected to his home or living space. He is his own boss and enters and leaves the office at his own discretion — a luxury few humans enjoy. 

Mr. Goxx was not as successful in his earlier trades as he has been lately. He started trading on June 12, 2021 with around US$378 and a month later, his portfolio was down more than 7%. But his luck — or possibly his ability to foresee crypto price trends — improved with time. He has now briefly surpassed the returns on S&P 500, NASDAQ 100 and investment tycoon Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, according to a report by Protos.

The logic behind the joke

The humans hit upon the idea of making their hamster trade crypto while they were discussing how people often buy into the crypto hype and trade crypto without understanding the market. 

“It seems like most people from our generation see no other chance than throwing a lot of their savings on the crypto market, without having a clue what’s going on there,” the men behind Mr. Goxx told the BBC. “We were joking about whether my hamster would be able to make smarter investment decisions than we humans do.” 

Though his performance is masterful lately, there is no logic behind the hamster’s trades. Mr. Goxx’s orders are completely random.

American economist Burton Malkiel claimed in his book “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” that a monkey throwing darts at the financial section of a newspaper can do just as well as an expert when it comes to investment decisions. Mr. Goxx is that figurative monkey getting it right in the crypto world, at least for the time being. Many tweets from Mr. Goxx’s account have a disclaimer that the content is for entertainment purposes. The hamster has a live feed on Twitch that shows all his activities when he is in his office. Even his name is presumably meant to warn observers about the risks of jumping blindly on the crypto bandwagon. 

Mr. Goxx is named after the erstwhile crypto exchange Mt. Gox, which was the largest exchange in the world handling almost 70% of crypto transactions at its peak. The exchange was hacked in 2014, leading to a loss of 840,000 Bitcoin — valued at roughly US$460 million at the time — forcing the company to file for bankruptcy soon after.

Although the hamster does not have a favorite cryptocurrency, it has made most of its money trading Bitcoin, Mr. Goxx’s owners told Forkast.News. Mr. Goxx has already lived one-third to half of his expected life — he is nearly one year old and hamsters typically live for two to three years. 

But he is spending his days in luxury. “He has a pretty comfortable ‘normal’ hamster home. Tons of bedding to dig in, 24 hours of snacks and drinks, a tiny wooden cottage and some platforms with a view,” the men said. Besides, Mr. Goxx’s office is high-tech enabled, befitting a crypto trader. A wide range of technologies from software scripting to 3D printing has been used to make Mr. Goxx’s office completely automated.

Basking in the glory

All the attention by mainstream and social media has made Mr. Goxx a celebrity, with interest in him even tracking China’s latest crypto crackdown. 

Mr. Goxx’s owners are a lecturer who is a prototyping specialist, and his best friend, a programmer. They choose to remain anonymous as they said, “Mr. Goxx is rightfully the star of this show.” Recently, however, the owners have started selling Mr. Goxx NFTs on OpenSea. The small proceeds — a few hundred dollars — are being used to expand the offices of Goxx Capital, a fictitious company and the remaining is being used to boost Mr. Goxx’s trading capital. The owners are building a new wing for Mr. Goxx’s office and creating a new machine interface that will enable him to independently create and mint his own NFTs. 

Animals win hearts on the internet with their sometimes cute and sometimes weird expressions and behaviors. This is why social media posts featuring animals have much higher engagement. Over the years, several animals and pets have achieved fame in the online world — from actor George Clooney’s pig Max, to the hummingbirds of American reality TV personalities Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. Paul the Octopus soared to glory and was hailed as an animal oracle after he correctly predicted the outcomes of eight matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was even given honorary citizenship in a Spanish town and made an ambassador for England’s 2018 World Cup bid

The key takeaway of the Mr. Goxx crypto entertainment is that although the hamster is furry, cute and nearly blind, his trades should not be taken as financial advice. Crypto markets are more volatile than traditional stock and bond options and investors should understand the market risk before trading their money.

As Duke University professor Campbell Harvey recently said at the Global Fintech Fest 2021: “No technological disruption in history has been without risk. And if you get into this space [of crypto and decentralized finance], you need to understand the risks …. If you want something risk-free, then just go buy treasury bills and get the returns associated with them.”