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For years Elizabeth Holmes was the darling of Silicon Valley, a woman that could do no wrong. The start-up she founded, Theranos, attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investments. Yet the company she had built was based on fantasy science. The technology Theranos was producing — supposedly testing for hundreds of diseases with a pin prick of blood — seemed incredible. And it was. Millions of dollars were squandered and some who used the company’s tests, including a cancer patient, say they were misdiagnosed. Now, years after Theranos collapsed, Holmes has been found guilty in California on four counts of conspiring to defraud investors. For an outsider to Silicon Valley the story sounds nonsensical. How were so many people taken in? Yet in Silicon Valley, many believe that Theranos — far from being an aberration — speaks of systemic problems with start-up culture. In Silicon Valley, hyping up your product — over-promising — isn’t unusual, and Holmes was clearly very good at it. A Stanford University drop-out, she was, by all accounts articulate, confident and good at presenting a vision — a mission as she described it — to revolutionise diagnostics.

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