More likely I think they were also enamored with what looked like promising results. I've personally seen situations where technical due diligence on lab tech was poorly done and therefore wrong. Unless the VC has a fairly strong science background/scientific advisors in a related sector, it's super easy to make something look like it's working when it's actually totally busted.
Theranos was at the right time with a very intriguing idea, but one that was ultimately not a model for reality. They were able to get lots of capital at this time in preparation to develop a product that ultimately never materialized (and more fundamentally, may not be physically possible).
To be honest, I don't know. I think it is possible to get a lot of information out of a single drop of blood. But there are issues with sampling--blood from the capillaries in my finger is very different from blood coming back from my intestine.
Maybe more fundamentally: a lot of "interesting" things are specific proteins. These can be at extremely low concentration--on the order of nanomolar all the way down to femtomolar. It's very difficult to amplify such a signal -- DNA is easy to amplify but proteins are not. At such low levels, the wrong drop of blood may have a dramatically different meaning, due to stochastic effects.
Once one journalist finds one problem and does the legwork and prints it, others who know of problems find that journalist because they know he/she will do the legwork and get the story out.
The company then puts their side out to journalists they think might not put them in a bad light, who maybe get special access if they don't ask the toughest questions.
There's a natural triage of journalists in these battleground stocks/stories into pro- and anti- factions, even if the journalists are doing the fairest job they can with the info they get.
Not to say the company, the competition and other interested parties don't feed tips, leaks and tough questions to one side or another.
These assays are performed regularly on large samples no problem, but the sensitivity and accuracy of the assay becomes erratic when you only have a couple micro liters of blood.
Either they couldn't develop proper assays (an engineering problem) or microliters of blood don't contain enough substrates for their assays (a major lapse in knowledge)
Whereas a fingerstick produces a few drops of blood that flow to the surface moving past the tissue and cells that were cut getting to the blood vessels, and they'll contribute unrelated proteins, lipids from cell membranes, etc. etc. On its face, many many people have said this is so problematic real evidence that it worked was needed; heck, even a theory would have been nice, but neither were forthcoming.
From the many blood draws I have done, standard practice is to fill a tosser vial before collecting the real samples in order to remove these contaminants.
Now, it's possible I'm mis-remembering this, although the protocol includes showing me the vial after the draw so I can confirm it's labeled correctly and I tend to remember additional vials, since that manipulation often hurts more than anything else. I'll pay attention, heck, ask the phlebotomist in a few months during my next annual checkup.
There's been some research into using piezoelectric elements coated with antigen or other reactive surfaces.
A positive result (meaning antibodies are attaching themselves to the substrate) would change the resonant frequency of the surface.
I was at one of those firms 25 years ago and they were working on it back then. Either they abandoned the effort, or are still trying, but they haven't launched a single microfluidic immunoassay.
I think with this specific industry testing and compliance is more important in due diligence.
According to the WSJ she was childhood friends with Tim Draper's daughter and that's where she got her first round.
> The first $1 million came from Tim Draper, a founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, through two of his funds. Ms. Holmes was a childhood friend of his daughter and came to him “with extraordinary energy and brilliance,” he says.
At that point you have a very bright founder who interviews well and is backed by Draper. Everyone else assumes everyone else did their research.
If you've ever invested in something and found out you were about to lose it, part of you flirts with the idea of selling while you still have plausible deniability. You know that if you ask too many questions, you'll lose that plausible deniability. Of course it doesn't really make a difference, you know damn well, but it's part of the grieving process.