Elizabeth Holmes- The Definition Of Hypocrisy
In the end, she's just a common, garden-variety con man
She dressed like Steve Jobs and talked like she was going to save the world. Wealthy men fell at her feet and investors couldn't wait to give her money. But there was just one problem with Elizabeth Holmes and her supposedly miraculous blood-testing company Theranos: It was all a lie.
On Monday, a jury found Holmes guilty on four counts of fraud….
Holmes dropped out of Stanford to found Theranos, inspired by a desire to help people like an uncle suffering from cancer. Combining the words "therapy" and "diagnosis," she started a company with the intention of revolutionizing phlebotomy, replacing extensive and expensive blood tests with a machine that could divine diseases from a drop of blood. And she didn't let little things stop her, like the fact that it was impossible.
Holmes and business partner Sunny Balwani continued to make grandiose claims -- going so far as to fake demos for investors -- while even their own staff and engineers told them their vision couldn't be realized. The technology needed to catch up to the dream. A lie was rebranded as a vision.
Elizabeth Holmes was seemingly everything Silicon Valley and venture capitalists could dream of- a brilliant, driven woman with a vision that, if proven out, could potentially save millions of lives.
Holmes was IT. She was a Big F*****g Deal, someone for whom the term “golden child” seemed somehow inadequate. Holmes was doing more than going gangbusters to change the world. She’d also convinced people with large amounts of available cash that she was going to SAVE it.
There was just one problem. None of it was true. Holmes may have begun Theranos with the best of intentions. Before long, though, she was making claims she couldn’t support. She eventually went so far as to fake demonstrations for potential investors.
It was such a simple and yet devastatingly brilliant idea- take a drop of blood and use proprietary technology to discern all manner of information from it. There may come a time and a company that will make all of that possible, but Theranos wasn’t the enterprise equipped to make it happen.
And so Elizabeth Holmes embarked on what was a multi-million-dollar shell game. That it would eventually catch up with her was inevitable, but she, on some level, appeared to believe that she could fake it until she made it.
There was no way that one person could maintain such an elaborate fraud indefinitely, of course, and so Theranos inescapably came crashing down around her. The prosecution established the depth and degree of her fraudulent nature at her trial. All that remains is her sentencing, which should be substantial and lengthy.
I have no problem with justice running its course. However, in this case, Holmes was done in by hubris and the inability to control the grift she was running. What disturbs me is the defense she mounted, in which she claimed that her former business partner and lover, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, sexually and emotionally abused her during her time in charge of Theranos.
So, on the one hand, Holmes reveled in being viewed as the female revolutionary who would grab the business world by the balls and make it her bitch. On the other, she’s claiming her judgment was adversely impacted by the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of her former lover/business partner. Any wrongdoing can and should be attributed to Balwani’s being mean to her.
Thankfully, the jury rejected Holmes’ defense and thus avoided setting back the cause of women’s equality. Why? Because you don’t get to accept the acclaim generated by your actions while avoiding the consequences when it turns out that those actions were illegal.
Whatever Balwani may or may not have done to Holmes, she decided to take Theranos down the Fraudulent Expressway. She faked demonstrations for potential investors. And she kept the con going as long as she possibly could, costing her investors millions.
Elizabeth Holmes wanted to be a strong, visionary businesswoman- a force with which to be reckoned. So when Theranos collapsed around her, she tried to play the hurt little girl card. But, to the jury’s credit, they refused to allow her to have her cake and eat it, too.
If you want to beat the boys at their game, you don’t get to revert to a different set of rules when it’s clear you’ve lost.
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