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🪓Theranos: From a Founder to a Fraudster
[#5] Tale of Chaos: 1 Woman. $1 Billion. 1 Drop of Blood. One life to ruin it all...
“In 2015, this woman was called “The Next Steve Jobs”.
Her Billion-dollar startup Theranos was once the hottest UNICORN of Silicon Valley!
But She went from being a FOUNDER to a FRAUDSTER!”
And this is where the story ends. Yes. It’s over! There’s nothing beyond this.
But maybe, there’s one more thing…
I have no personal hate for Elizabeth Holmes (except for the part where she was called “the next Steve Jobs”).
Theranos, after being dissolved in 2018 left all of us with just one question — What the fuck happened?
The (K)ey Notes:
ACT I - A Fire
ACT II - A Flight
ACT III - A Fear
ACT IV - EPILOGUE
This is an interesting grift story of Elizabeth Holmes — From being a promising visionary biotech genius to a disgraceful liar, bringing Theranos down with her.
If you are not yet familiar with Elizabeth Holmes or Theranos, then buckle up, things are going to be Brutal from here…
Let’s unroll the story of a saga of bad blood, bad money, and the broken trust of millions in the lust for money, power, and fame!
But wait a minute…Where’s the tech?
TALE OF THE TAPE
“A Standford Dropout, A Revolutionary Idea, Lot of Money”
These are the three ingredients that any generic entrepreneur would kill for
"Elizabeth Holmes" inherited them all.
Holmes's story starts in her early university days…
THE HISTORY OF THERANOS
A dropout from Stanford University (something that this university is known for, from time to time!).
While pursuing chemical engineering at Stanford; she came up with an idea for a wearable drug-delivery patch while working at the Genome Institute of Singapore, but it was not kicking her, enough to delve deep into it.
But she still wanted to try it. Taste it. So she dropped out to work on this patch!
She was under the impression that she was building a startup, but little did she know, she was picking up candles to a scandal.
We all can agree that we lust for ambition and fame in whatever we love to do — but making something larger than life and not delivering it or removing “making”; just selling an idea without even actually building it.
Yes, that’s fraud.
Holmes was charismatic with her vision from the very start.
Just after dropping out, she framed her vision
“ONE DROP OF BLOOD WILL DETECT ALL OF THE DISEASES THAT WOULD OCCUR TO A PERSON IN THE FUTURE, DECREASING THE RISK OF DEATH”
In 2003, a 19-year-old Holmes laid her foundation and started Theranos.
Theranos: a combination of “Therapy” and “Diagnosis” — a consumer healthcare technology startup.
She testified this by saying “I decided I was going to build a life by building this company”.
Her sales pitch stated that her product could detect health problems with just a few drops of blood from a finger prick.
This was 2003. Promises were sold.
High-profile investors got fixated on her idea. Very few people in Silicon Valley have been able to pull off the impossible;
Building a FOMO within investors.
Putting them in the dilemma of not backing up revolutionary ideas from day one!
No one wants to miss a piece of this golden goose (or as they used to think then) — many renowned names joined the cult of Theranos:
Holmes promised to “Democratize” healthcare.
Which was largely inspired by her fear of needles. But she diligently wanted to overcome it and started the ideation…(Ideation: To provide analytical data from just one drop of blood)
Many scientific and medical experts told Holmes, that this could never work! But we know how a revolutionary idea is grilled in their early days, right?
Resulting in becoming havoc of an idea.
P.S: Don’t worry, this story ain’t that one, where there’s a turnaround…
This meant — this idea won’t work, ever. Period.
Also, where's the Tech?
“Hey Siri, Play the latest Shade from iKyu”
🚨: A NEW Episode of Documentary-style Shade is live
When (2) universes Kollide, a new Shade is born.
Here’s a sneak peek of our latest edition:
In 2023, we are standing at the same pinnacle where Apple or Netflix stood a few decades back: iKyu is the 1st Official Content Partner with Volume Stories.
And we are calling it…
A creative odyssey into the dark and grifter universe of business. With every shade (episode) you experience stellar trivia about startups, technology, and businesses that you see, feel and use in everyday life; that existed before you and would continue existing after you perish.
Everything Business and Beyond.
And yes, Experience us in our iconic "Documentary-Style!"
This partnership isn't just about merging resources, it's about breathing life into stories, giving a voice to creativity, and delivering it to you in ways that touch hearts and stimulate minds. We may not know what history will say about us, but we are certain that we are writing it together, one word, one sound, one story at a time.
So here's to iKyu and Volume and all our storytellers and listeners. And like every great story, it starts with a heartfelt, "Once upon a time…”
Swiftly, right after Holmes founded Theranos, she raised early funding in 2004 for $6.9 million at a valuation of $30 million; that’s how it all started to shape up.
After a few years, new rounds were raised. Laddered up to a valuation of $1 billion…
Theranos was now a Unicorn!
But there was something fishy? nothing was known to the public.
Until 2013, Theranos was being built in stealth. In 2013, they announced their so-called invention "Edison" to the public.
In the same year, they signed a deal with Walgreens (a healthcare giant) which would allow users to have their blood tested and analyzed in stores.
With already a unicorn label on her name, with this new Walgreens deal — Holmes was now the talk of the town.
Theranos was the new hot shit!
In 2014, Forbes, Fortune, and NYT Magazine — everyone’s go-to girl of the year — Elizabeth Holmes.
And that’s also the start of her fakeness being flourished in full colours.
She started posing herself as Steve Jobs.
Fake baritone voice!
still, where's the tech?
This exposure was hazardous for her, as many journalists and experts glued their eyes to her startup and their wrongdoings internally!
John Carreyou — the one who brought all the light to her fraudulent activities within Theranos!
In 2015, along with Theranos was valued at $10 billion; How long does it take to rumble down a Unicorn?
An expose story bombed the whole world — shaking the deep roots of Silicon Valley!
October 16th, 2015:
John Carreyou dropped a bombshell article in the Wall Street Journal;
“Theranos” — frauding the people, investors, and medical experts with their tech, which never really worked — the article concluded.
This was the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes, her long hide-and-seek was near!
P.S.: this is the same year when INC. magazine made Holmes their cover — the title goes “The Next Steve Jobs” with a picture of her attached to it.
again, where's the tech?
That WSJ report included interviews with all ex-employees, talking about the incompetency of management & handicapped tech & lies being sold to the public.
Too much bleeding, too much damage control needed — too much BLOOD shed was done!
The timeline till now:
→ 2015: starting of the downfall
→ 2016: Theranos is under the radar, Walgreens suspends all deals made, and PFM (largest investor) leaves.
→ 2018: THERANOS IS CHARGED WITH MASSIVE FRAUD.
→ The founder and COO of Theranos were indicted for 11 counts of fraud.
→ SEC (U.S Securities and Exchange Commission) accuses them of:
“raising more than $700 million from investors through an elaborate, years-long fraud; exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.”
It all falls!
In the wake of the charge & indictment,
Holmes was stripped of control of the company — and forced to return millions of shares to Theranos and is barred from serving as an officer or director of any public company for ten years.
Holmes stepped down as the CEO and Theranos, shattered to the ground as it struggled to find out any buyers!
That marks the end of the pony run of Silicon Valley’s most notorious F(raud)ounder.
Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos are left worthless.
After infinite docu-series & a few years of high federal drama later, fast forward to 2021...the trial began in August.
on 3 January 2022, Holmes was found guilty of four counts of defrauding investors.
She faces 20 years in prison, in addition to fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars, with her sentencing!
We have always had an innate fascination with these kinds of grifter dramas from real life.
A learning opportunity on so many spectrums.
Imagine studying about the Black hole, while being in one — that’s the feeling!
The authenticity and repulsive nature of Elizabeth Holmes is what makes Theranos story much more fascinating!
Actress Seyfried who played Elizabeth Holmes in the latest Hulu Original stated that she felt Holmes ‘believed it herself’, explaining:
“From a psychological point of view, if you want to believe something badly enough, and you’ve worked so hard to make it true, physically and emotionally, then at some point, you’re just going to have to choose whether or not it’s true…
"Our brains are miraculous and we can forget things, we can bury things, and we can create things.”
Also, WHERE THE F*CK IS THE TECH?