7 – What do you think of Elizabeth Holmes?

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is a documentary chronicling Elizabeth Holmes, founder Theranos, with an invention that promised to revolutionize blood testing. 

In 2015, Forbes had named Elizabeth Holmes as the world’s youngest and welathiest self-made billionaire in the United States, heralded as the next Steve Jobs. In less than two years, her net worth is zero and her multibillion-dollar company was dissolved. Fortune had named Holmes one of the World’s Most Disappointing Leaders.

People want to buy into the story of the young person who wants to change the world. Elizabeth Holmes created her self-brand as the female version of Steve Jobs, her idol.

Some of her backers include General James Mattis, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz to publicly support Theranos. She got the Walton Family, Carlos Slim Helu and Rupert Murdoch to invest in Theranos. She has several  high-level people supporting her who aren’t qualified in blood testing or biochemistry is some sort of a warning sign. Steve Jobs did not even have this kind of support from high-level people at the start of Apple. The founder and the product were so hyped up by the media. Meanwhile, no one asked “does it work?” 

In fact, there have been whispers about Elizabeth Holmes’ comprehension of her own invention. In one article, her explanation is defined as ‘comically vague’:

Thing is, people only see what they want to see. Such was in the case of Holmes and Theranos. Elizabeth Holmes’ image fed into the Silicon Valley myth of the young genius who drops out from university; further exacerbated by the fact that Holmes is a unique character in Silicon valley: a female startup founder, and thus a unicorn of her own.

Such as is the hyper-optimism of Sillicon Valley. Nowadays, entrepreneurship has morphed into merely selling promises, and getting the trust of important people who are willing to fund you. The culture of ‘fake it til you make it’ defines American entrepreneurship has created people like Elizabeth Holmes and Billy McFarland.

I wonder what the future is for Elizabeth Holmes will be like. Will she change? Will she have a “second act”?

Read more about our Favorite White Collar Criminals

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