>She tells former colleagues, according to the two executives, that she is greeted by well-wishers on the street who are rooting for her resurrection.
That says it all. Beyond the fraud, beyond the obscene breaches of fiduciary duty, it all basically reduces down to a severely delusional person, operating in an environment where delusion in it's more acceptable forms is seen as a positive attribute.
Consider that the requirements and circumstances are totally different in our industry vs. hers. She has to do a shitload of testing, she has to wait years... but our M.O. is to move fast and break things. Could you imagine being in her industry, and having the patience to go through years of trials and testing and passing through regulations?
She seems to have some good qualities needed to be a founder: believing in yourself to a delusional degree, being good at getting money an getting people to believe in you, etc. Maybe if she was in our industry, she could have been quite impressive and successful in running a company.
She hired Steve Jobs’ right-hand man. He quit because she was too abusive and too delusional. It’s fair to say she’s fundamentally different from any competent CEO, ignoring the fact that she chose to deploy medical devices to the field.
Maybe instead of trying to lower the standards of the medical industry, we should raise the standards of the tech industry.
I have worked at two reasonably successful healthcare startups. No 'unicorns', but they paid good salaries, made money, and were purchased for a decent price by bigger players. We waited. In the meantime we sold to researchers and performed LDT's (as Theranos did) to bring in revenue.
You do your work and put in the time. There is no other reasonable option. We didn't require a lying, arrogant CEO to pull it off.
I think a lot of technology people don't understand the scope of regulatory and medical implications of working in life sciences. It's not just simple as "code it up and flip the switch!" Theranos isn't the only firm I've seen crash and bail due to that cavalier attitude.
Theranos was doing standard lab tests, like blood electrolytes. Blood electrolytes are highly regulated by the body and are only abnormal in serious medical illness. If your blood sodium level is too low (hyponatremia) that's a medical emergency and you need to be in the ER (hyponatremia can indicate end-organ failure like renal failure, heart failure; it can also indicate serious endocrine abnormalities like SIADH or too much water intake 'frat-boy' syndrome). Uncorrected hyponatremia can lead to permanent neurological disease (classically brainstem herniation).
The CEO's mentioned in the quote above operate at demonstrably higher level of competence than Holmes. The article kind of jumps the shark with this bit.
For her to be able to convince a lot of people - companies, investors, CEOs and perhaps a multitude of bright people to do what seems to conclude as a big fraud is still mind boggling to say the least.
You got the best engineers, doctors, laboratory technologists, medical techs, pharmacists, and just about everyone in science, and yet they continued for so long on this path of bizarre development of a product. Why did these people only realized when it was too late and that everything would crumble down at some point? They must have shared her vision with an intensity that has out shined their conscience and common sense.
-- attributed to various sources; see for example: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/11/30/salary/
Power and connections, get the right people to buy in and you can do almost anything.
>In the past year and a half, the grandson and grandfather have rarely spoken or seen one another, communicating mainly through lawyers, says Tyler Shultz.
>Mr. Shultz says lawyers from the law firm founded by David Boies, one of the country’s best-known litigators and who later became a Theranos director, surprised him during a visit to his grandfather’s house.
They unsuccessfully pressured the younger Mr. Shultz to say he had talked to the reporter and to reveal who the Journal’s other sources might be. He says he also was followed by private investigators hired by Theranos.
It's not that mind-boggling honestly. We're overloaded with information and have too little pertinent information (and information-gathering time) to make informed decisions. The most dangerous people in society right now are people who believe in their own bullshit. Their absolute sincerity is enough to dupe people and part them from either their money or their influence.
Everyone went along and yet there was nothing of value.
Still significantly more tests, with less blood, at way cheaper prices could earn them a ton of money, of course they couldn't actually do any of that.
If I could pop into my local GP (family doctor) or have a mobile service come to work and quickly do the tests id be saving a lot of annual leave
A CEO lying about some unneeded product or service, while bad, does not come close to lying about a product that can impact one's health and well-being. She and Sonny both deserve substantial fines and jail time.
That part I find quite like many other startups where the CEO will gladly go on stage saying “we built this amazing app, that does X, and will be launching in 2 months!” And talking to the coders will have them saying “yea he didn’t decide we should do that until last week, so we havn’t actually started, we still havn’t finished The first model he pitched.”
The main difference to Theranos is then that mostly the software promises are just a question of time(AI promises excluded), where they actually had a big unknown in basic feasibility.
Let's not forget that the FDA gave Theranos a CLIA waiver to sell this thing outside of laboratories.
The CEO lied but the regulators failed massively here as well.
While the inspector could have pushed the issue, I don't think they 'failed massively'.
How else can you reasonably assess the work of someone titled “inspector” when they fail to “inspect”? Especially when they approve a device they haven’t “inspected” as an “inspector”.
If you see logic in calling them something other than a massive failure then I’d like to understand your thought process.
As engineers and entrepreneurs alike - we need to show that regardless of your history, wealth, gender etc. this kind of behavior is not okay and will get you blacklisted.
Just as many imply money with power and evil - but seem to make passes for their favorite actors or celebrities.
I think we'd be in a better place if we could accept as a culture that gluttony in money and power without reason, irregardless of what someone thinks is "enough" money, should be met with criticism agnostic of race, gender, etc.
My only caveat is for people to assume that anyone with more money than them - moreover anyone who owns a business is "evil" by design. This seems to be one the more present falsehoods of Hollywood as of late. IMO, to take the potential gains out of act of taking risk to build something is wholly un-american. I think making more public those who fail in business or make huge sacrifices more present in media would help this. I only bring this up because the general public seems to tie certain attributes to people they're "okay" with being successful and others who they deem evil just because popular media told them those people don't "deserve" their success or wealth. Et al - the farmer in Iowa or small business owner in Chicago making $250k +.
"If You Watched This Elizabeth Holmes TED Talk From 2014, It Was Clear She Was a Fraud From Day One"
Indeed - lots of fluff and buzzwords, without much substance.
I'd say that about the majority of TED talks that I have seen.
What would that talk have looked like if they had the successful, proprietary solution that they claimed? I'd argue that it would not be all that different.
Trying to do scientific due diligence for proprietary technology via analysis of PR seems to have incredibly poor signal to noise.
...besides a heavily-played story that she brought a puppy to the office, was there really anything in this article that wasn't already covered in better ways in previous articles?
I just don't get why people are convinced by these pathological liars whose only skill is confidence?
Con-men tell people what they want to hear. It's not shocking that she is a con-man, it's shocking that she was able to con people who are so rich and powerful.
I remember her Forbes article and I was like "there is something wrong here". It takes DECADES to make breakthroughs in medical science and she did it in as a 19 year with a couple of into to bio classes?
If could have shorted Theranos then, I would have.
The only good thing about this is there are a few horrible people that lost a lot of money investing in her, so that has been entertaining.
Now, yes, the medical breakthrough part should have been a red flag to serious investors, but my guess there is that once someone bought into it, other investors were scared that they might miss out on what could be the next big thing and jumped on it.
If I was in that situation (i.e I was a VC), I would at least ask for a working demo of their tech (where I was present to see it go through even if that took an entire day) along with corroboration of their results with conventional tech before I decide to give them a dime. I mean I did this even when I invested just $15K as an angel investor in a company long time ago.
This seems obvious to me - why isn't this a thing for big name investors?
Her early backers were big-name individuals. Not firms. The healthcare VCs (e.g. Annie Oakley) passed on Theranos.
The deeper question is to what degree are David Boies, George Schulz and others who actively suppressed whistleblowers complicit in her crimes.
And maybe it highlights an interesting lesson: it's much easier to hoodwink individual investors with charm and lies and Holmes nailed that part down to perfection.
Institutional investors have an institutionalised diligence process. Individual investors have their own diligence process. For some, it’s nothing more than a gut check. (Which is okay. There are plenty of successful companies that were founded on checks written on a gut feeling.)
The bigger question is why a few of those people kept doubling down, to the point of attacking whistleblowers, after they had enough evidence it was a scam.
I get the feeling that she is a lot like Steve Jobs 'pre-getting fired from Apple'. Mercurial, unrelenting, quick to lie, charming.
The "greatness" we remember of Steve Jobs comes after a decade long process of humbling and nearly losing everything at Pixar. Even then I wouldn't have wanted to be around him.
(This comment brought to you via my 2015 Macbook Pro. Thanks Steve).
At the early stages, sure, there’s no difference. Genius and madness are only differentiable with hindsight.
At the point you’re rolling out broken medical devices, lying to investors about the Army buying your kit, and deploying unthinking attack dogs like David Boies and George Schulz on whistleblowers (one of whom was the latter’s grandkid), there is a huge difference.
But, in this case, Holmes wouldn't pivot to more reasonable products that fit into her vision. It looks like her scientists did rather excellent work and made great incremental improvements in the blood testing field. Had she capitalized on those improvements; we'd see her as a success story.
There were attempts to do good work by people who believe in the vision.
Now, to put things in perspective, if you're anywhere near or over middle age, you've probably had blood drawn. It's freaking scary every time the needle is pushed in for me, and I frankly had to flat out reject my doctor's request to get blood tests every 2-3 months. (I got a second opinion.) If these tests could be done with a much smaller amount of blood, things would be much easier. I'd be much more willing to run into my local CVS for whatever test my doctor wanted if the test involved a lot less blood.
That's why the engineers believed in the vision and did a lot of good work to try to lower the amount of blood needed for tests.
For theranos and fyre festival. I'd say it was less playing timing to their advantage and more fraud.