Exclusive: Davido received $30K to launch meme coin, influencer claims

Meme coin creator Sahil Arora said he is behind $DAVIDO, the new meme coin promoted by Afrobeat star Davido.

Exclusive: Davido received $30K to launch meme coin, influencer claims
RasheedhrasheedCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Musician Davido promoted a new meme coin with pump-and-dump characteristics.
  • The influencer behind the project claims he paid Davido $30,000 to launch it.
  • Industry experts worry such celebrity endorsements could mislead fans and damage the reputation of cryptocurrency.

Stay ahead of the curve: Uncover the latest trends & avoid crypto pitfalls.

Nigerian singer-songwriter Davido has made yet another crypto comeback in what appears to be a blatant attempt to mislead fans and profit off them. On May 29, the Afrobeat sensation launched a new meme coin project dubbed “Timeless Davido” ($DAVIDO), for which Mariblock has learned he received $30,000 upfront from Sahil Arora, the crypto influencer who claimed to be the meme coin’s mastermind.

Chart of Timeless Davido Token
Davido's new celebrity coin has lost nearly all its value

As of writing, the meme coin, launched on Solana meme coin factory pump.fun, had sunk by more than 80% from the highest price reached just a few hours after launching. The rapid crash is consistent with classic pump-and-dump schemes.

Be smart: A pump-and-dump scheme is a controversial trading technique where holders of a large percentage of a token create hype around it, driving up its price. Those large holders then sell their positions, flooding the market with tokens and driving down the value drastically. 

Davido’s crypto history 

  • This is not the first time that singer Davido has launched a crypto product. 
  • In 2021, he partnered with crypto startup Bitsika Africa to launch the $ECHOKE fan token. The project was short-lived. 
  • Also in 2021, he promoted a meme coin dubbed rapdoge, which is now a dead project. 
  • He also promoted the pyramid scheme Racksterly circa 2020-2021. Although not particularly a crypto project, the scheme defrauded thousands of Nigerians of billions of naira.
Davido promoted meme coin rapdoge in 2021

Dive deeper 

Hours after the token launched, Davido appeared on an X space hosted by crypto influencer Ansem to create awareness for the new token and get more users on board the project. However, the music star demonstrated little knowledge of the crypto ecosystem. He admitted that the token’s launch day was the first time he got to interact with the asset class. 

“Today was my first day really diving into this [crypto] and I am really impressed with what I have seen,” he said. “Me and my team are working on a website now and there will be more details on the website.” 

Those words raise serious questions about the singer’s intentions and the nature of the advice he receives. The majority of meme coin projects are pump-and-dump schemes, and their promoters count on less informed and in-for-a-quick-cash people to make money — a phenomenon colloquially called “exit liquidity.” 

Be smart: Davido's latest venture into crypto is just one example of the recent rise of celebrity meme coins. Meme coin creators would typically pitch a famous person the idea of launching a token in their name. For the meme coin creators, the goal is to leverage famous people’s brands to drive awareness of the coins, which almost certainly guarantees fast money.

It was no different for Davido. 

Shortly before his token went live, an X account run by crypto influencer Sahil Arora replied to one of Davido’s posts with a screenshot showing the Afrobeat star saying, “Wat is about; I want money upfront.” 

Arora, told Mariblock, via a Twitter chat, that he is the mastermind of the Timeless Davido project, sharing another screenshot, where agreed to pay him upfront. 

“I speak with these celebs direct, no managers or middlemen. I offered him [Davido] decent money to tweet it. Gave him all the plan. Sample tweets and everything. He followed me too on IG. He launched. I had supply. We all made $ [cash],” Arora said. “It’s all orchestrated part of marketing”

Sahil added that Ansem, who hosted the X space where Davido spoke was paid $100,000. 

When asked how much he paid Davido to get involved in the project, he replied “$30k.” 

Davido’s management did not respond to multiple requests for comments. 

The manner in which Arora freely gave Mariblock information is unusual. Most crypto influencers are coy about the details of their deals. For Arora, the goal appears to be the clout get gets from coverages related to him. He told crypto media outlet Decrypt that “clout, money, and authority as his motives.” 

He also told Decrypt of his involvement in several recent celebrity meme coin launches including the Rich the Kid token. “I’m connected with pretty much every celebrity,” he said. 

For Davido, it’s unclear how much he has made from his latest crypto venture, if at all. An analysis by X user Lookonchain puts Davido’s profit at 2,783 solana — worth $470,716 as of writing — less than a day after the launch. 

Although Arora told Mariblock the wallet address cited in Looksonchain’s analysis indeed belongs to Davido, it is difficult to ascertain that information. Crypto wallets are pseudonymous, and it can take a long time to link a wallet address to an entity. 

The bigger picture 

Still, the lack of clarity on the amount the music star has made should not take the spotlight away from the apparent lack of awareness of the impact of promoting pump-and-dump schemes on his followers. 

Davido’s new project comes at a time when the Nigerian government is cracking down on peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency trading. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) partnered with other agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to curtail naira manipulation in unofficial foreign exchange marketplaces such as P2P platforms. 

Lucky Uwakwe, the chairman of the Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria (BICCoN) is wary of the impact projects such as this have on the local crypto industry both from the regulator's and consumer’s viewpoint. “Davido has a good level of influence that can affect his followers; it is important that he does not abuse it and, in turn, rub off on the real players in the crypto industry,” said Uwakwe. 

The BICCoN chairman urged regulators to deal with influencer-driven meme projects differently than people who are building useful products. “When nonplayers like Davido take such measures it is important that regulators like SEC and CBN note of the difference and not take it out on our industry when such meme project fail or become a subject of debate.” 

“Again, the industry is open for all and not restrictive, but stakeholders and core players have more to lose when things go bad from such an experiment and Davido can easily move on to the next thing.   

“We urge SEC to hold them [$DAVIDO token promoters] responsible if it is truly a rug pull as alleged in some quarter” 


Signup for Mariblock Weekly

Stay up-to-date with the latest blockchain developments in Africa

Sent weekly, on Sundays. Read past editions

Already a member?