Throughout much of 2021, cryptocurrencies have proved unstoppable. The world's largest digital currency, Bitcoin, has nearly doubled in value from where it began the year. Further, the aggregate value of all cryptocurrencies has more than tripled to $2.62 trillion, as of Dec. 1.

Though there are more than 15,000 cryptocurrencies now listed by CoinMarketCap.com, it's dog-themed meme coin Shiba Inu (CRYPTO:SHIB) that's captured the attention of investors.

A Shiba Inu dog looking suspiciously at something in the distance.

Crypto investors have flocked to dog-themed coins in 2021. Image source: Getty Images.

After going to the moon, Shiba Inu is now plummeting

When the year began, a SHIB token could be purchased for a microscopic $0.000000000073. But by Oct. 27, Shiba Inu had hit an all-time high of $0.00008841. In going from 10 zeroes down to four, it delivered a peak year-to-date gain of more than 121,000,000%. This means investors who put $1 to work in SHIB at midnight on Jan. 1 would have been millionaires on Oct. 27.

However, there's been a shift in the tide over the past five weeks. In November, SHIB slid from $0.00006697 to $0.00004744. That works out a decline of 29% in a month.

Why the sudden pessimism? To begin with, look to history as a guide. With the exception of Bitcoin, nearly every payment coin that's delivered a short-term gain ranging between 20,000% and 500,000% has been met with an equally brutal reversion of 93% to 99%. Even though the Shiba Inu community has plastered message boards with hype for months, the urge to lock in gains after a run-up of 50,000,000%-plus is simply too great for many to ignore.

Shiba Inu also lacks the utility and differentiation you'd want to see in a cryptocurrency that's been hovering just outside the top 10, in terms of markets cap. Fewer than 375 merchants worldwide accept SHIB as payment. It's also nothing more than an ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum (CRYPTO:ETH) blockchain, meaning it's tied to the same high transaction fees and processing slowdowns that are known to hit the popular Ethereum network.

This crypto trio ran circles around SHIB in November

While Shiba Inu lost 29% of its value in November, most popular cryptocurrencies outperformed it. This includes Ethereum, which ended the month higher by 8%, and Bitcoin, which comparatively only lost 7%.

But within the crypto universe there are three digital currencies that absolutely crushed SHIB in November.

Interlinked bicycle chains covered in binary code that represent compatible blockchain.

Image source: Getty Images.

Avalanche: Up 87% in November

First up is Avalanche (CRYPTO:AVAX), which, true to its name, buried Shiba Inu with an 87% gain last month. This increase that propelled Avalanche past Shiba Inu in market cap looks to be the direct result of excitement surrounding its high-performance blockchain, as well as the real-world utility it can offer.

Avalanche is one of the fastest layer-1 blockchain projects in existence.  According to the development team, it operates thousands of nodes and can process north of 4,500 transactions per second (TPS), with a transactional finality of less than two seconds.  In English, this just means the sending of money, files, or data is completed in less than two seconds. Comparatively, the highly popular Ethereum network can only handle about 13 TPS, with a transactional finality of closer to six minutes.

In addition to being fast, Avalanche's smart contract-powered network offers compatibility that should have no problem luring decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized application (dApp) developers. Since the Ethereum Virtual Machine is already running on Avalanche, it seems like a no-brainer that Ethereum-based DeFi and dApp developers will consider migrating to take advantage of Avalanche's superior transaction speeds and low fees. 

But perhaps the most tangible reason AVAX soared in November was the mid-month strategic alliance that was formed between Ava Labs, which created the Avalanche platform, and Deloitte. The newly created "Close As You Go" cloud-based platform is designed to help state and local officials streamline eligibility and reimbursement applications following a disaster. 

The real-world application of Avalanche's platform compared to Shiba Inu's almost nonexistent real-world appeal is night and day.

A person wearing a virtual reality headset and interacting with the virtual world.

Image source: Getty Images.

The Sandbox: Up 332% in November

Another cryptocurrency that completely ran circles around Shiba Inu in November is The Sandbox (CRYPTO:SAND). It might have a playful name, but it wasn't playing around last month. SAND tokens, which are the primary token of the platform, more than quadrupled.

The primary reason SAND gained 332% in November can be traced to investors' insatiable appetite for anything having to do with the metaverse. The metaverse describes the next iteration of the internet that allows people to interact in a 3-D virtual environment. The Sandbox is a gaming platform focused on the metaverse that intends to reward gamers for creating virtual worlds. In essence, it's a play-to-earn platform.

The buzz surrounding SAND spiked last month following Meta Platforms' (NASDAQ:FB) announced name change on Oct. 28.  Meta is likely best known for its social media subsidiary Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg has been crystal clear that Meta will step up investments in the metaverse over the coming year and well beyond. This effectively puts The Sandbox at the heart of one of the buzziest and potentially fastest-growing global trends.

What's more, unlike traditional gaming platforms, The Sandbox allows virtual creators to own their assets in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These NFTs can be used within a game or even monetized on The Sandbox's marketplace.

It's tough to say if the hype surrounding the metaverse will pay off anytime soon, but it certainly looks to be a more intriguing project than what Shiba Inu offers.

Two diverging crypto charts leading to a digital rocket ready for launch.

Image source: Getty Images.

Crypto.com Coin: Up 227% in November

A third cryptocurrency that completely crushed Shiba Inu in November is Crypto.com Coin (CRYPTO:CRO), the protocol token of Crypto.com Chain (a decentralized blockchain developed by the Crypto.com company). After nearly hitting $1 per CRO, it pulled back to finish last month higher by "only" 227%.

There look to be a trio of reasons to explain Crypto.com Coin's stellar November. Without question, the biggest catalyst was the mid-month announcement that Crypto.com would pay $700 million for the naming rights of the Staples Center over the next 20 years. Beginning later this month, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA), Los Angeles Clippers (NBA), Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA), will now be known as the Crypto.com Arena. Owning the naming rights of an incredibly popular sports venue should help Crypto.com's mission of increasing digital currency usage. 

Second, Crypto.com launched a television advertising campaign featuring actor Matt Damon on Oct. 28. Similar to landing the naming rights of the Staples Center, Matt Damon adds identifiable star power that could coerce additional users to join Crypto.com's financially focused platform. The company's cryptocurrency app and Visa card currently serve about 10 million customers. 

Lastly, Crypto.com Coin hodlers can probably thank inflation for their big gains. Users have the ability to stake their Crypto.com Coin to earn up to 12% annual interest.  Considering that October's U.S. inflation rate of 6.2% hit a 31-year high, the ability to earn a real return, far above the rate of inflation, could be viewed as highly attractive right now.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.