This just hit the wires – – someone managed to sneak a video from inside Theranos of someone playing the “Kill John Carreyrou” game the employees had made, Space Invaders-style. A reminder that Mr. Carreyrou was the multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who uncovered the huge scam run by Elizabeth “Crazy Eyes” Holmes and Sunny “Headin’ to Court” Balwani.
I saw a headline on December 24 which put a damper on my Christmas Eve:
Ummm – – so why on earth would this bug me? I don’t have a dog in this fight. If Theranos goes bankrupt, it doesn’t hurt or help me one bit. If they become the most valuable company in the world (ha!), the situation is the same. Utterly neutral and meaningless. So why should I care?
At the risk of getting all Holden Caulfield-y on you, I really hate phony. Anything fake or phony drives me to distraction. Dyed hair. Insincere compliments. Ulterior motives. Plastic surgery. Anyone or anything constructing a facade just rubs me the wrong way.
And that is the principal reason I have written so many posts about Theranos (this is my eleventh one) even though it was never a public company and there’s nothing to chart about it. Some have even wondered out loud if I’m obsessed with Elizabeth Holmes. Far from it. First off, take my word for it, she isn’t my type, and secondly, I don’t get all tingly about baritone-voiced business criminals. Never been a turn-on. Honest. (more…)
On the front page of Thursday’s Wall Street Journal is this article, which is another absolutely superb piece by multiple-Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Carreyrou. I strongly, strongly encourage you to read it, but I wanted to say a few remarks about it on my own.
As everyone knows, Theranos has become a complete disaster and an embarrassment. The megalomaniac founder, Elizabeth Holmes, claimed a net worth of nearly $5 billion a couple of years ago, and this net worth is now reported to be $0 billion. John Carreyrou has done a yeoman’s job bringing The Truth out about this despicable organization and its husky-voiced, completely fake CEO who was given a huge pass by the public (like Hillary Clinton) because she’s a……….woman. God knows Mr. Carreyrou deserves a third Pulitzer prize for his superb journalism.
Just as heroic, however, is former Theranos employee Tyler Shultz, the grandson of 95-year old George Shultz, of Reagan administration fame. I used to kind of look up to the old fellow, but the way he treated his grandson, who acted with honor and ethical integrity, is revolting.
That actually goes for the entire crew of ancient old white men who populated the Board of Directors, whose principal motivation, I suspect, was to stare at the mildly attractive young woman, fifty years their junior, who ran the place. You know. The new Steve Jobs. That one. Because she wore a black turtleneck.
After a long trading week, for no particular reason on Friday afternoon I decided to take a look at the Theranos home page. This “smoldering wreckage” of a company (as Fortune eloquently put it) is based in my beloved Palo Alto, and I like to check in from time to time based on some morbid curiosity.
What struck me immediately was the sentence they put front and center on the home page. The geniuses at the firm decided it would be a great idea to slap these words on top of a photograph that also happened to have a lot of lines on it, yielding an appearance of – – how shall one say? – – pig crap.
I have made no secret of my disdain for Theranos and Elizabeth “Crazy Eyes” Holmes by way of these six past posts. While driving through town, I passed by the gorgeous and expensive Theranos building, and yesterday I decided to swing into the parking lot. I was curious, because the one and only other time I had been there, it was totally empty, which I found bizarre for a weekday. But I swung into again and…………
I was amused yesterday evening to read about the implosion at Theranos, which is located right here in my beloved Palo Alto. Elizabeth Holmes has been the darling of the business press for years, what with her flowing blonde hair, big blue eyes, and slender neck peeking out of the Steve Jobsian black top. Like Holden Caulfield, I have no fondness for “phonies”, and she seemed like one to me.
The thing is, the phenomenon of attractive women leading high-tech companies is a relatively recent one. On the surface, we as a society will pat each other on the back about how progressive we are, now that we have unvarnished gender equality, even at the highest echelons of corporate power. But let me just spoil your little party and tell you something. The reason men gawk at photos like this……….
Those of you who have ever seen Fiddler on the Roof probably remember the line from Tevye, “When you’re rich, they think you really know.” That certainly applies here in the Silicon Valley, as the words from billionaires – – no matter how wrong-headed or goofy – – get a lot of attention and respect.
Tim Draper is a big venture capitalist here, and among such stellar investments as Tesla and Skype, he also put cash into the clunker Theranos, whose bankruptcy (to my mind at least) seems virtually inevitable. Instead of being quiet on the Elizabeth Holmes debacle, he has instead painted the company’s failure as some kind of anti-feminist conspiracy against Ms. Holmes, instead of a simple matter of outright fraud.
No, I’m not referring to the corners of my soul. I’m speaking of the lack of light in the early morning of Palo Alto’s suburban streets. In spite of just having woken up, I am treated to the following:
(1) Equities are continuing to weaken
Last week, my teenaged son asked me a sincere question: “How come Marissa Mayer got $200 million by screwing up Yahoo?”
It was a good question, and one I had trouble answering at first, because I’d like him to think that there’s some level of fairness, meritocracy, and sensibility to this world of ours. In Mayer’s case, however, there is none. Her entire massive fortune is due to being in the right place, at the right time, on multiple occasions. She is no more clever or shrewd than someone who won the mega-jackpot lottery. (more…)