It’s no coincidence that after Holmes released her name, the profile of Elizabeth Holmes was leaked to the press. A TechCrunch editor told me that she eventually left after learning that Hancock had reaped the benefits of his friend Holmes’ triumph.
Showing Jobs’ Fault in the Dell Debacle
Despite the fact that Howard Beale was on screen all night, every time Simpson introduced data he got a tear in his eye. Simpson’s attempts to be ghoulish were not successful. His fans loved his takeaway quote: “We, as a technology society, are so fucked.”
When a show at the Golden Globes asked guests to share the worst tech CEO that they had ever met, a reporter named George Clooney won with his critique of Steve Jobs. In a Time interview with Clooney later that year, Jobs came up again. Clooney recalled seeing Jobs taking out his rubbish, and saying, “George, someone is going to have to shoot this man.” Clooney also revealed that his business manager encouraged him to call Jobs the same day after the episode aired. Jobs immediately asked for Clooney’s mother to watch the episode with him, to counsel her about how difficult it is to be in the public eye.
The Silicon Valley Aftermath
Both Theranos and Holmes moved the media attention onto themselves. Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University who studies high-tech and ethical issues, said it was Holmes’ personal behaviour which turned her a “cradle-to-grave press story”. “The problem was that the cycle of anti-tech/anti-T.H.” he said, to explain why Holmes and Theranos failed, “started to make her or Theranos the hero and that is self-defeating.”
The consequences of having the press fixate on Holmes, the reverse effect of Jobs and Apple, lasted for several years. The discussion of the press has been reinforced by media coverage of the conflict between Jelani Cobb and Michael Hyatt, the science journalist and the science writer. Cobb chronicled her visit to Theranos.
“We could never agree on what value Theranos added to medicine and what the ongoing damage was,” she said. “They lost a lot of money that she came to know and ultimately, the piece was a tragedy.”
Both Theranos and Holmes went public with stories claiming that government agencies and regulators had approved their business practices. Their statements made it harder for government to sanction them. In 2014, Theranos’ founder Elizabeth Holmes faced a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit over a health-care data device that led to a record $700m (£528m) fine. The SEC gave its blessing to the transaction in January, along with an order that Theranos change its name.