How Much SHIB Does Shiba Inu Founder Ryoshi Really Hold? – Decrypt

There’s good reason to believe the enigmatic Shiba Inu meme coin founder “Ryoshi” is sitting on 10% of the total SHIB supply, despite repeatedly claiming to own no SHIB tokens.

It might even be more accurate to say they own 17% of the supply, considering that 41% of the tokens had been burned by 2022. Regardless, Ryoshi may be holding a SHIB fortune worth $1.8 billion at today’s prices, according to an analysis by crypto forensics firm Bubblemaps. That means when SHIB’s market cap ballooned to $41 billion on October 30, 2021, Ryoshi would have had a meme coin fortune worth $4 billion. 

The company says blockchain data suggests that the meme coin founder not only holds a large portion of the SHIB supply but has over time made attempts to conceal the holdings by splitting up the stash into smaller and smaller amounts across dozens of wallets.

Just weeks ago, Bubblemaps reported that funds linked to the Shiba Inu founder were once again on the move. “Over 150 wallets were used in one of the most complex wallet splitting processes ever observed,” Bubblemaps founder and analyst Nick Vaiman told Decrypt. “The concerned cluster still represents 10% of the total $SHIB supply, with a current value close to $2 billion.”

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Fact or FUD?

To be sure, the pseudonymous Ryoshi would likely dispute such claims, though has not commented publicly on the allegations—or anything at all. Ryoshi abruptly wiped all social media accounts and retreated from crypto celebrity in the summer of 2022. Representatives for the Shiba Inu development team did not respond to a request for comment from Decrypt for this story.

But the Shiba Inu team has been fielding questions about Ryoshi for years from “self-proclaimed blockchain experts and storytellers spreading false narratives,” as head of marketing at Shibarium “Lucie” said on Twitter. She went on to say that the anonymity of blockchain data has “led to some individuals abusing the system and spreading inaccurate information.”

But not everyone seems ready to believe that. The Shibburn account was set up to track the burning of SHIB tokens. The account said last October it takes issue with signs that the Ryoshi alias owns more than $1 billion worth of SHIB.

“It’s why I don’t trust anything mentioned in the ‘vision’ and believe certain interactions with ‘Ryoshi’ felt staged,” they wrote. “Do you believe that was their only wallet? I don’t. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear.”

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There have even been theories floated—however implausible—that convicted felon and FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is Ryoshi. Those haven’t gained much traction.

A founder retaining a stash of tokens, especially one big enough to account for 10% of the total supply, tends to raise red flags for investors. It can erode the idea that a project is owned and controlled by the community if an insider has secretly held onto trillions of tokens. 

It also raises the risk of there being market manipulation. Traders don’t want to worry that a creator might artificially inflate the token’s price by limiting supply. And if the creator decided to cash out and sell their entire stash, it could leave the rest of the holders with worthless SHIB, or close to it.

Follow the map

Bubblemaps first reported the billion-dollar SHIB wallet cluster in January 2023. At the time, the stash was held across only 13 wallets, according to Bubblemaps. Since then, those 100 trillion SHIB tokens have been spread out across 179 different wallets, according to Bubblemaps’s Vaiman. Many of the transfers to split the huge fortune occurred in the six months after Bubblemaps started talking publicly about a cluster of wallets that bought $10,000 worth of SHIB right after the token launched in August 2020 and never sold or transferred any of it.

After the team sent a tweet in January 2023 highlighting the cluster, they got an anonymous direct message on Twitter asking them to stop looking into the wallets in September. “You laid out a perfect blueprint for somebody to try to target me,” the person said. “I was hoping that you would respect the privacy of my wallets and refrain from posting them publicly.”

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The Bubblemaps team at the time blew it off as potentially a “troll,” though Vaiman now says he believes the message may have come from the Shib Inu founder using an alt account. If so, then rather than settling for just asking Bubblemaps to call off the analysis, “Ryoshi” began moving funds around again. “Shortly after, two strategic wallets were slowly emptied by transferring SHIB to 20 brand-new wallets,” Bubblemaps tweeted at the time.

ryoshi blog
Screenshot of a since-deleted Ryoshi blog post.

The controversy is made even more noteworthy by Ryoshi’s previous claims to own no SHIB tokens at all. In a now-deleted blog post published in February 2021 (but still viewable with the Internet Archive), “Ryoshi Research” wrote that “as of today I own no tokens as I bought a little and sold a little, but kept nothing for this massive pump.”

At the time, SHIB had only been doing a few hundred dollars worth of volume per day and was trading for $0.000000002, according to CoinGecko historical data. It’s mere fractions of a penny, but had just seen a 203% spike in its price over 48 hours.

In May 2021, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin received an unsolicited SHIB airdrop worth more than $7 billion. Buterin donated $1 billion worth of SHIB to the India COVID-Crypto Relief Fund and then burned the rest—40% of the total supply. Naturally, that severely reduced the circulating supply and drew massive attention to the token. The price of SHIB spiked and a few months later set an all-time high of $0.00008616 in October 2021.

It was only a few months later that Ryoshi relinquished control of the project and disappeared from the spotlight. Still, if Bubblemap’s analysis is correct, there are signs that the founder continues to try to obscure the amount of SHIB they control—and perhaps not coincidentally, just as the meme coin market begins to heat up again.

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