Correspondent in New York
Elizabeth Holmes will sit next Wednesday in the dock for a millionaire fraud with Theranos, the revolutionary company in the world of health with which the world became a montera. Beyond measuring Holmes’s abuses, it will also be a judgment on Silicon Valley culture, its giants with feet of clay, and its complacency.
“Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible.” “Fake it until you make it” (“Pretend until you get it”). “Move fast and break things” (“Go quickly and break things”). They are the mantras that have dominated the tech industry of this century. The latter is attributed to Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook. It is
a way to overcome the limits of the conventional to achieve the extraordinary, not to allow the bumps in the road to prevent you from achieving the vision of the genius.
But Holmes over-braked breaking things and pretending what wasn’t there. Your ‘idea that I would change the world‘- the idealistic alibi in Silicon Valley to line his pockets – was an outright fraud.
In essence, Holmes sold that his company, Theranos, would forever change the way blood tests are done. Instead of venous extraction, a minimal finger stick allowed more than 200 diagnostic tests to be performed, much faster and cheaper than traditional laboratories.
It was made possible by a machine – baptized with pedantry ‘The Edison’ -, a miniature laboratory, almost portable, which allowed, by magic, quick results on diabetes or cancer.
Millions of dollars
The world saluted Holmes like the new ‘Steve Jobs’ and she responded by showing herself as a feminine replica of the Apple co-founder, always with a black turtleneck, intense gaze and infinite confidence. Investor money rained down on Theranos, which was valued at $ 9 billion and 800 employees in 2015.
It was then that Theranos fantasy began to collapse like a house of cards. The most valuable thing The Edison had is the inventor referred to. It did not give the promised results. Theranos cheated on her clients by taking normal blood tests.
“That’s what happens when you work to change things,” Holmes said in an October 2015 interview with CNBC, with the stubbornness he had learned from great figures of Silicon Valley. “First they tell you that you are crazy, then they confront you and in the end you end up changing the world.”
But the scam did not go much further: the company collapsed and Holmes’s fascination became the one it feels. for the fallen angel. From the covers of ‘Forbes’ or ‘Fortune’ he went on to star in articles, documentaries and podcasts about his fraud. Overnight, she became America’s underdog.
Now he faces a sentence of up to twenty years in prison. He will also sit on the bench, albeit in a separate trial, Ramesh Balwani, his partner in Theranos and also a sentimental partner. Holmes’s attorneys will defend at trial that Holmes suffered abuse by Balwani and that he dominated his decisions. He has several weeks of trial to convince the twelve jurors that this time it is not a hoax.