Wednesday, May 23, 2018 by Ethan Huff
Remember Elizabeth Holmes, the infamous blonde-haired entrepreneur that the mainstream media at one time hailed as “the next Steve Jobs” in female form? A new book tells all about the trail of deceit, fraud, and “femsplaining” that this former head of the now-defunct Theranos corporation engaged in on her unscrupulous quest toward greatness.
Holmes, in case you didn’t know, had been the feminist poster child for budding female corporate executives everywhere, circa 2006. Because she wasn’t a man, Holmes was quickly thrust into the media spotlight as the “future” of corporate leadership in America – all hinging upon her “breakthrough” discovery of a blood testing technology that supposedly required much less blood compared to existing methods.
Not only would it become easier to draw blood from patients, seeing as how much less of it was required, but groundbreaking protocols would also allow for an expanded testing profile. Holmes had claimed that her method allowed for hundreds of different blood tests to be performed in one panel, including tests for everything from mineral and vitamin levels to diagnoses for sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
It was a compelling concept that landed Holmes on the covers of business magazines like Inc. alongside glowing captions such as “8 Women Who Could Own the Future.” The only problem, it would later be revealed, is that Holmes’ technology didn’t actually work, and she blatantly lied about its successes during a demonstration before the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.
“The demonstration, by all accounts, was a success,” explains Lydia Ramsey for Business Insider. “But the Theranos employees who had been on the trip didn’t seem too excited, noticed Theranos’ chief financial officer at the time, Henry Mosley.”
“That, according to Carreyrou (referring to John Carreyrou, author of a book on the scandal entitled Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup), is because the blood-testing system the team had demonstrated in Switzerland didn’t always work. To mask the problem, the team had recorded results that could be displayed during a demo to investors.”
Concerned about the mismatch between what Theranos under the leadership of Holmes was claiming versus what was actually happening, Mosley reportedly tried to seek answers. But he came up short, and soon discovered that the entire company was basically operating using “sleight of hand” – basically lying about the success of the blood panel.
During one particular trip to Switzerland to demonstrate the technology, employees involved quickly recognized that they had nothing to show before Novartis investors. So they apparently stayed up all night trying to get it to work – and when that was unsuccessful, they simply faked the results that they presented the following day.
When Mosley learned what was going on, he in good faith decided to bring it up to Holmes, only to have her respond with indifference. However, when he later brought it up again before investors, Holmes’ tune changed, and Mosley quickly found himself without a job.
Not long after, Holmes was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for committing “massive fraud.” Consequently, her turtle-necked photo ops quickly vanished from the business magazines, and her legacy was tossed into the dumpster of history.
According to reports, Holmes was found guilty of “defrauding investors” of more than $700 million through “false claims” about her “amazing” technology. She eventually settled with regulators for $500,000 while neither admitting nor denying the accusations.
Considering that, at one point, she was valued at upwards of $9 billion, Holmes clearly made off like a bandit, despite her crimes. At the same time, fellow criminal Martin Shkreli, who committed similar crimes, was forced to pay more than $7 million in fines – presumably because he’s a man, and is thus held to different justice standards.
Sources for this article include: