Why 2013-2020 Are the Gold Rush Days of Cryptocurrency
cryptocurrency gold rush

Why 2013-2020 Are the Gold Rush Days of Cryptocurrency

By Allen Taylor | Cryptocracy | 19 Mar 2021

CoinMarketCap launched in 2013 ushering in a new era in cryptocurrencies. The pioneering days were over and the gold rush era began. Since then, CoinMarketCap has become one of the most trusted sources of information on cryptocurrency valuations and crypto exchanges. At launch, the site listed seven cryptocurrencies:

  • Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin offshoot Litecoin
  • Peercoin
  • Namecoin
  • Terracoin
  • Devcoin
  • and Novacoin

7 cryptocurrencies 2013

Since Bitcoin’s code is open source, anyone can create their own cryptocurrency, and many people did. One of the first was Namecoin, created in 2011. The most prominent is Litecoin, which came later in 2011. Such cryptocurrencies are called altcoins, a reference to any cryptocurrency that isn’t Bitcoin.

In February 2014, there were 86 cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap’s radar. Top of the list were Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, Peercoin, Nxt, Dogecoin, Omni, Namecoin, Quark, and Bitshares PTS.

Ripple launched in 2013 and quickly rose in the ranks. It has remained in the top three or four cryptocurrencies by market capitalization almost since its founding.

By March 2015, the top 10 list had Bitcoin still on top, but Ripple had overtaken Litecoin for No. 2, which put Litecoin at No. 3 and Bitshares at No. 4. Bringing up the bottom six of the top 10 were Dash, Dogecoin, MadeSafeCoin, Nxt, PayCoin, and Stellar.

Dash is another bitcoin spinoff, created in January 2014, and which was used prominently in its early life for darknet activities. It changed names twice in its first year.

The Rockin' Age of Ethereum

Ethereum launched in July 2015 and by August 23 had the fourth largest market cap of almost 600 cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap’s list at the time. By February 2016, Ethereum had risen to the No. 3 spot. Bitcoin and Ripple were at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Litecoin had fallen to No. 4. Dogecoin, Dash, Peercoin, Stellar, MadeSafeCoin, and Bitshares rounded out the top 10.

Ethereum CoinMarketCap

The following year proved to be a banner year for all the cryptocurrencies. On New Year’s Day, Bitcoin was just under $1,000. In December, it topped out at nearly $20,000. Bitcoin dragged the entire market up with it. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin were the top four cryptocurrencies by market cap in February. Monero joined them at No. 5. Ethereum had forked and its daughter, Ethereum Classic, had the sixth largest market cap. MadeSafeCoin, NEM, and Augur rounded out the top 10. Both NEM and Augur were new starts to the crypto scene at that time with NEM launching in 2015 and Augur’s parent foundation kicking off in 2014 to prepare for the cryptocurrency’s official launch in 2018.

There was something else significant about the 2017 crypto market. Minds, the first blockchain-based social media platform, launched in 2015 and Steemit, the most popular social media website on a blockchain to date, launched in 2016. Both pay users in cryptocurrency for creating content on their platforms.

The Sudden Decline of Steemit

If 2017 was a banner year for crypto, 2018 was the correction. In January, the market plummeted. On January 28, Bitcoin was at $11,786.35. It ended the year at $3,865.95. Every altcoin followed suit.

On January 14, STEEM’s price was at $5.91. On March 25, it had fallen to $2.02. It fell below $1.00 in August and closed the year at less than 30 cents. Its market cap rank was 53 out of more than 2,000 cryptocurrencies, most of them “shitcoins.”

STEEM CoinMarketCap

We could call the period from 2014 to 2020 the wild west days of cryptocurrencies. That’s just another way of saying the market had not matured. At the end of 2018, the top 10 cryptocurrencies were:

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Ripple
  3. Ethereum
  4. Bitcoin Cash (forked off Bitcoin in 2017)
  5. EOS (launched in 2017 by Daniel Larimer after leaving Steem Inc., the parent company of Steemit and the Steem blockchain)
  6. Stellar
  7. Litecoin
  8. Tether (a stablecoin launched in 2014 as Realcoin and rebranded to Tether later that year)
  9. Bitcoin SV (forked off Bitcoin Cash in November 2018)
  10. and TRON (founded in 2017)

Is the Cream Rising to the Top of Crypto?

On October 20, 2019, the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap were Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Tether, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Binance Coin (launched in July 2017), EOS, Bitcoin SV, and Stellar. We were beginning to see some stability in CoinMarketCap rankings even as new cryptocurrencies were being created daily. One year later (October 25), the only movement was Ripple and Tether had switched places, some of the mainstays had moved within the top 10, and Chainlink (raised $32 million in 2017 through an initial coin offering, or ICO) and Polkadot (launched in 2019) were new entrants to the top 10 list.

Two days before Christmas last year, the rankings weren’t much different than two months before.  

The year of the coronavirus ended with more than 3,000 cryptocurrencies fighting to prove themselves. A few new upstarts had promising futures. STEEM was ranked 135 and had a value of just over 18 cents when Bitcoin reached an all-time high of more than $20,000. Hive, which forked off Steemit in March, was at 153 and valued at less than 14 cents. A new social media project created by Dan Larimer called Voice was not yet listed on CoinMarketCap.

As of December 2020, the market tracker now has almost 7,000 coins and tokens listed.



I am not a financial advisor, nor do I give financial advice. The above information should not be considered financial advice but is for informational purposes only. Neither I nor Cryptowriter are responsible for financial losses incurred as a result of acting on this information. Please consult a financial advisor before making any financial decisions.

This post is published for Cryptowriter in association with Voice.

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This post was first published at Voice.

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Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor

Writer, editor, publisher. Content strategist for fintech, blockchain, and crypto firms.


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