Few individuals make the career switch from a “steady” mainstream financial news publication to writing a book on the “risky” crypto space.
We’re talking about Camilla Russo, the rockstar author behind cult favorite “The Infinite Machine”—an account of Ethereum’s “past, present, and likely future.”
For those who don’t know, Russo covered financial markets at Bloomberg for eight-long-years before falling into the neverending rabbithole that is the crypto market. Bitcoin piqued her interest at the time, followed by a quick jump to the wickedly beautiful world of Ethereum.
Since mid-2019, Russo has focused her efforts on researching and newsing the ever-growing decentralized finance (DeFi) market via her hit newsletter The Defiant—which has since become one of the most-read newsletters among crypto circles.
Today, Russo sat down with Alex Fazel, the ever-charming host of crypto edutainment channel Cryptonites, to discuss her journey to the crypto space, her experiences writing the book on Ethereum, her outlook on the present and future market, among other topics.
Here’s a snippet of the stuff they discussed.
From Bloomberg to crypto
Russo kicked off the session with a bit about how she found her way to the crypto world: “I was at Bloomberg for eight years, started there as an intern in New York and then when to when a site is to cover markets there and it was in Argentina actually, when I first wrote about Bitcoin in 2013, seeing how Argentines were using cryptocurrency to protect against inflation on currency controls,” she recalled.
“Then I spent some time in Spain covering European stocks and then back in New York in 2017 and 2018, where I was a macro market reporter for the Bloomberg markets live blog. And I took this chance to write about crypto again, as you know, in 2017 there was a huge boom, and (I was) writing about the space every single day, covering all the craziness, and revolutionary tech and (other) aspects of it. I really kind of saw the huge potential it had and, and, and just really enjoyed covering this like just like fast-paced, racy space on basically never, never left since,” she noted.
It was around this time that the idea for The Infinite Machine came about: “At the end of 2017, I decided to pitch to write a book on the history of Ethereum. I got to deal with Harper Collins, and then spent most of 2018 between writing the book and still being a journalist at Bloomberg. But by the end of 2018, I decided that I really had to kind of focus on finishing my book and the best way I could. And then also decided that eight years at the same company was enough time and I was ready to do something different and be independent. So I decided to leave Bloomberg in early 2019,” she said.
The ICO train
For a part of the Cryptonites segment, Russo delved into the now-forgotten, yet always-infamous initial coin offering (ICO) phase of the crypto market. For those who weren’t around: Bedroom projects, outright frauds, and scams with a mere website raised millions of dollars in 2017-18, promising revolutionary tech and other otherworldly ideas.
What was delivered instead was…ermh, literally nothing. Millions vanished, and only a handful of players (such as EthLend (now Aave), Havven (now Synthetix)) made it to the other side and actually delivered useful tech.
Russo, however, notes the bright side of the fall. “The ICO mania; there’s a lot to criticize there. But in its essence, it was the first time that people were able to finance themselves in a decentralized way which is pretty revolutionary,” she said.
The author added, “I think ICOs got a really bad name, but it actually enabled something that’s pretty radical than centralized fundraising.”