The voice, we are reliably told, is an “affectation”, a way for Elizabeth Holmes to command the attention and respect of men as she made four and a half billion dollars out of thin air.
Everybody’s talking about Bad Blood, John Carreyou’s admirably thorough deconstruction of Miss Holmes and her entirely imaginary magic blood-testing machine. In addition to stellar book sales, which Carreyou absolutely deserves, he’s sold a $3 million option to Hollywood. Jennifer Lawrence and her professionally blank face will play Holmes, although I doubt we’ll see as much of her in this role as she was sending to various people using her iPhone.
There are villains, fools, and useful idiots aplenty in Bad Blood, although there is also a slightly unsung hero. Rupert Murdoch had the power to kill Carreyou’s story, and Holmes asked him to do so, but he declined, effectively terminating his own $125 million investment in a single wave of the hand.
If you want a decent summary of the whole thing, Fred Reed has one of the most darkly comic recaps. Steve Sailer at Takimag offers some additional insight. What strikes me as most fascinating about the Theranos affair was how well it represents much of what’s happening in modern society now. Look at it this way: For thousands of years people have talked themselves into having visions of the Divine. There are hundreds of people who are absolutely certain they have seen the Loch Ness Monster. The desire to believe something is often strong enough to overcome the relatively weak diode-style connection between eye and brain.
Nobody in modern society particularly likes the fact that there are very few great female entrepreneurs and virtually none in tech. Nor does the Silicon Valley crowd like to acknowledge the fact that real-world problems and products don’t play by the consensual-illusion rules of the tech bubble. We wanted to believe in a female Steve Jobs the way that people have passionately wanted to believe in UFOs or the book of Revelations.
Miss Holmes was just the first girl who was unscrupulous and sociopathic enough to exploit that belief on the billion-dollar scale. God bless her for doing so. Every time American society has to confront reality, it becomes a little bit smarter as a result.
I’m just kidding about that last part. If you believe that our current society has the capacity to learn from this boondoggle, then you probably also believed in Theranos.