It’s an emotional day at FT Alphaville Towers. Our beloved editor, Izabella Kaminska, is leaving after a 13-year stint at the blog. Having joined in 2008 as a junior reporter after working for Big Oil (yes, that’s right conspiracy theorists), Reuters and CNBC, Izzy rose through the ranks to finally be made head honcho in 2017, succeeding FTAV founder Paul Murphy.
She will be sorely missed by all of us, and many of you.
Readers will agree that there is no one quite like Izzy in financial media. Her knack for spotting trends and troubles long before the rest of us, and her ability to combine on-point, esoteric references — from the power structures of classical Rome to Soviet-era state planning and Tom Cruise movies — with a deep knowledge of finance has long made her work a must-read when it comes to everything from payments to crypto to the gig economy.
So to celebrate Izzy’s time at FT Alphaville, here are some stories, and a video, from her over the years.
Amazon (sub)Prime? (2019)
The article that launched a thousand angry PR emails. In the first half of this two-part epic, Izzy explored whether “Fulfilled by Amazon” was at risk of being swamped by counterfeit goods due to its co-mingling policy.
Defending the Romans (2012)
Did currency debasement lead to the collapse of the Roman Empire? Back in 2011, Izzy explored the question of whether Helicopter Ben Bernanke was a modern day Diocletian.
The taxi unicorn’s new clothes (2016)
Izzy suggested that Uber’s business model didn’t look sustainable. Since then, the company has recorded $26bn in operating losses.
Is QAnon a game gone wrong? (2020)
Izzy, always curious about cults and conspiracies, but never happy to simply dismiss those who become immersed in such things as stupid or deranged, produced a fantastic mini-film about QAnon right before the infamous 2020 elections and the Q-inspired January 6 aftermath. It really is a must-see — if you haven’t already watched it, do. As so often with Izzy’s work, it brings a perspective that you will find nowhere else in the media.
Osborne deals with the pirate threat (2014)
Gideon is pictured next to a Bitcoin ATM. Cue over 2,000 words on how the Roman Empire dealt with the pirate threat to its grain supplies.
Bitcoin: identity crisis (2016)
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Back in 2016, a certain Craig Wright came forward to claim the crown of king of bitcoin. But things weren’t quite that simple (they never are, as Izzy will tell us).
When memory becomes money; the story of Bitcoin so far (2013)
A history of bitcoin. From 2013. Need we say more?
Inside the gig economy: The testimonial (2016)
Izzy had a go at working for Deliveroo. It’s less fun (for her) than you’d imagine, but lots of fun for us.
Explaining the commodity warehouse trade with scripture (2013)
Ignore the formatting of this post, which has gone a bit skewy, and revel in Izzy explaining how a commodity trade works via the Biblical story of Joseph. Spoiler: it’s more entertaining than Thomas Mann’s book on the same subject.
How RTGS inadvertently killed system liquidity (2019)
Don’t have a clue what real-time gross settlement systems are? Time to swot up on the tech that underpins the financial system as we know — and love — it.
Is solar manufacturing a highly automated business? (2021)
Solar panel prices have collapsed. The go-to story to explain this remarkable journey down the cost curve is improved productivity. But the truth might be slightly less convenient for ethical investors.
More decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) mysticism (2016)
Izzy was often so far ahead of the news that it’s easy to forget she was the first to write on an issue. There’s no better example than this post on the problem with DAOs from . . . six years ago. It seems history does repeat itself, at least in cryptoland.
Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention perhaps Izzy’s crowing achievement during her time at FT Alphaville: Vaudeville.
Held at London’s oldest venue, Wilton’s Music Hall, Vaudeville combined live music, Crypto, comedy, a talking computer, Wirecard, performance art, Adam Curtis and Cambridge Analytica into one evening of entertainment and somehow made it work. The Fyre-inspired promo video (see above) featured Alphaville faves Pamela Anderson and the island of Sark (what more could you ask for). It was a roaring success, and wouldn’t have been the madcap event it was without Izzy’s ingenious vision (in fact it never would have happened at all).
So long Izzy, and thank you for the memories. We wish you all the best at your next endeavour.