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OK, book report time. I have just finished reading Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal. Good read, fascinating story. It is the saga of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, the miraculous blood-testing company of Silicon Valley. Holmes, formerly said to be worth $4.5 billion, ended up under criminal indictment for fraud as of 2015. I suppose many have heard vaguely of Theranos, as I had, but the actual story is astonishing.

Holmes, 19, drops out of Stanford to start a medical-instrumentation company. She is very smart, very driven, very self-confident, very glib, very cold-blooded, very manipulative, very willing to take risks, very pretty, and very ruthless. Everything about her is very. If the foregoing resembles the clinical description of a psychopath, there is a reason.

She also knows almost nothing of the sciences, and nothing at all of electronic or mechanical engineering, or of medical instrumentation. That is, she has no qualifications in the field. She is just very–that word again–smart and pretty and talks a swell show. And yet…ye gods and little catfishes, what she managed to do.

Her goal was to invent a medical blood-analyzer that could do a large number of tests on a single drop of blood from a pricked finger. It was a bright idea. If it had worked, it would have been a (very) big deal. This of course is also true of anti-gravity space shps and perpetual motion machines. Making it work required nothing beyond difficult mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, programming, microfluidics, and a few things that were impossible. She knew none of these fields.

But holy smack-and-kerpow, Batman, could she talk. Soon she had investment money pouring in. On her board she got–yes–Henry everlovin’ Kissinger and James Mattis (uh-huh, that one,) and former Secretaries of State and Defense and just about every heavy hitter except Pope Francis. More money rained down. I mean with people like that vouching for her, Hank the Kiss and Mad Dog Mattis, it had to be legit–right? She even managed to cozy up to the Clintons and Obama.

Meanwhile the wretched blood gizmo wouldn’t, didn’t, and couldn’t as it turned out, work. It was a metal box with inside it a glue-gun robot arm out of Jersey–I am not inventing this–that made grinding noises and could do only a few tests with wildly unreliable results. You might think of it as Uncle Clunk. Just the thing you want your life to depend on. And lives do depend on good lab results.(“OK, lady, Uncle Clunk says you got brain cancer. We have to remove your brain.”) Heh. Oops.

So Holmes, who could talk the bark off a tree, faked it. To be fair, she probably thought it would work or hoped it might and turned to chicanery only when it didn’t. Anyway, many of her deceptions were clearly fraudulent–well, clearly if you knew about them. For example, most of her results were obtained using commercial analyzers from outfits like Siemens instead of Uncle Clunk. Financial projections were wildly dishonest. Many employees quit over ethhical concerns–but they were bound by sharp-fanged nondisclosure agreements they had to sign to be hired. It was nonsense. Nothing worked. But nobody knew.

Thing was, across America there was a terrific will to believe. Her story was just too good to pass up. People wanted a female Steve Jobs, a girl to join the boys in a startup world of wunderkind guys like Gates and Jobs and Wozniak and Zuckerberg and all. There just weren’t any girls. Sure, a few, sort of, a little bit, like Marissa Mayer at Google, but Page and Bryn were the real starters-up. Holmes was beautiful, smart, so very appealing and just a dynamite entrepreneur. She had this astonishingly successful company.

Which didn’t have a product.

Note that most of the dazzling university dropouts who became billionaires are in software, not biological sciences. The few in hardware brilliantly put together readily comprehended pieces, like CPUs and memory chips. There is a reason for this. Programming takes a lot of brains and little knowledge. Medicine takes reasonable intelligence and lots of knowledge. Molecular biology takes a lot of brains and a lot of knowledge. A (very) bright kid can learn Python or C-plus-plus in a couple of months in mommy’s basement and actually be a programmer. It doesn’t work with complicated multidisciplinary computerized micro-fluidized gadgets involving robotic glue-arms. At least, it didn’t work.

I wonder why nobody thought of this. When asked for evidence, she ducked, dodged, lied, said the check was in the mail, and any day now.

The non-disclosure agreements saved her, for a while. All employees had to sign them. Her lawyer, who was also on her board, was the scary super lawyer David Boies. If you were a midlevel lab worker, and knew that reagents were out of date, that bad results were being hidden, that Uncle Clunk didn’t work–and said so, a savage law firm with unlimited funds and, as events proved, not a lot of ethics, would litigate you into sleeping in alleys. Consequently much was known, but little was said.

Meanwhile–this is crazier than Aunt Sadie, that we kept in the attic–she got freaking Safeway and Walgreens to bite on putting Theranos booths in their stores so customers could get quick finger-prick analyses for very little money. Both companies bought into this, and actually built the booths at considerable expense, without insisting on seeing proof of her claims. I wonder what she was thinking. The scam obviously was going to collapse at some point. And did.

A better question might be what her board members and the chain-store executives were thinking. They were bosses of huge corporations and presumably astute. How did she get away with it? I will guess. Most of those gulled were old men, or nearly so. Note that old men, powerful men, rich men, and famous men, are nevertheless…men. Holmes was a honey, slender, very pretty, well-groomed, appealing, smart, and maybe the daughter or girlfriend or mistress that her prey would have liked.

Andrea Dworkin. Finally, a cure for self-abuse. Would the old guys on Elizabeth’s board have been as smitten by Andrea?
Andrea Dworkin. Finally, a cure for self-abuse. Would the old guys on Elizabeth’s board have been as smitten by Andrea?

As the Wall Street Journal closed in, and Theranos got wind of it, things became ethically interesting. Holmes of course knew that Theranos was endangering lives, and had already established a lack of morality. Some of the board came to suspect and quietly bailed. The employees were intimidated, though several talked to the Journal anonymously.

But superlawyer David Boies and his associate Heather King among others at the firm knew. They tried every legal means, or maybe I mean lawyerly means, to block publication of the story. When federal regulatory agencies issued a long, detailed investigative report making it absolutely clear that Theranos did not even come close to legality, and was therefore endangering lives–Boies and King tried to suppress that too. Their success was not great as the Journal put the whole gorgeous taco online, but they tried. It is a curious fact, but a fact, that lawyers are often accessories to crime.

Anyway, great fun, great read.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Corruption, Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos 
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  1. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    Theranos was supposed to be the new Apple. The rotten fruit was just another Enron.

  2. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    On her board she got–yes–Henry everlovin’ Kissinger and James Mattis (uh-huh, that one,)

    So, the company that offered so much promise with a mere drop of blood from a pricked finger surrounded itself with men who spilled millions of gallons of blood. Good thinking.

    • Agree: RVBlake
    • Replies: @Anon
    , @seeing-thru
  3. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    Meanwhile the wretched blood gizmo wouldn’t, didn’t, and couldn’t as it turned out, work. It was a metal box with inside it a glue-gun robot arm out of Jersey–I am not inventing this–that made grinding noises and could do only a few tests with wildly unreliable results. You might think of it as Uncle Clunk.

    Here’s Uncle Clunk.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
  4. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    The non-disclosure agreements saved her… All employees had to sign them. Her lawyer… was the scary super lawyer David Boies. If you were a midlevel lab worker, and knew that reagents were out of date, that bad results were being hidden… a savage law firm with unlimited funds and, as events proved, not a lot of ethics, would litigate you into sleeping in alleys.

    So, one of the prime culprits was… lawsters, or lawyer-gangsters. Just like politicized law firms are using Lawfare against the Alt Right, powerful lawsters provide protection to people like Holmes who can pony up the bill.

    Maybe Non-Disclosure Agreements should be banned. Talk about disproportionate use of power. The Little People are made to keep their mouths shut about the Big Players. Little People are either bribed or threatened with destruction.

  5. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    Sorry to be superficial, but it seems remarkable that Mr. Reed finds Ms. Holmes “very pretty … beautiful … so very appealing.” So, he apparently thinks, did a bunch of other (seasoned) men.

    Even before I heard her creepy voice, she was thoroughly unappealing. I can’t even think of an attractive woman whom she resembles.

    A more credible explanation is that, once she had gulled a couple of heavy hitters, the insecurity and vanity of the others made it easy to bring them along.

  6. Note that most of the dazzling university dropouts who became billionaires are in software, not biological sciences. The few in hardware brilliantly put together readily comprehended pieces, like CPUs and memory chips. There is a reason for this. Programming takes a lot of brains and little knowledge. Medicine takes reasonable intelligence and lots of knowledge. Molecular biology takes a lot of brains and a lot of knowledge. A (very) bright kid can learn Python or C-plus-plus in a couple of months in mommy’s basement and actually be a programmer. It doesn’t work with complicated multidisciplinary computerized micro-fluidized gadgets involving robotic glue-arms. At least, it didn’t work.

    Oh, what a Bingo! From a capital B. I remember reading in one of some programming (scripting–for purists) language (do not recall which now–AS 3.0 or JavaScript) thick books how they approached some oscillations and roundly moving sh.t–all derivatives of a very basic trig. Man, I knew 10th graders who would have written much more concise and much more understandable piece on that issue instead of those pages upon pages of drudgery those authors, presented as some super-duper self-made geniuses, offered. Their explanation of basics was the worst POS I ever read on trig. Yet, there it was. I, of course, omit here the whole issue of design and engineering altogether.

    P.S. She is not pretty, she is creepy.

    • Agree: Vojkan
  7. @Anon

    Ahh, David Lynch at his best. But I think the box from Hellraiser is more appropriate here;-)

    • Replies: @Anon
  8. Herbertt says:

    Of course she’s creepy. She’s a psychopath. She’s also grinning all the time. Americans are always grinning, like f-ing chimpanzees. Always grinning. Very unnerving.

    Shakespeare: “let’s kill all the lawyers.” In Mexico, lawyers (abogados), are termed “abogangsters.”

    • Replies: @Chuck U Farley
    , @Rod1963
  9. She trained her voice to resonate with the nether-regions of old white dudes, literally breathing life into them without having to actually make lip-to-whatever contact.

  10. https://uproxx.com/technology/john-carreyrou-elizabeth-holmes-bad-blood-interview/2/

    I think she did grow up in an environment where her father reminded her often of the fabulous success of the older generation, the Fleischmanns, you know these two Hungarian immigrants who come to the U.S. in the 1880s and founded this company, the Fleischmanns yeast company, that became incredibly successful for its time. By the turn of the 20th century, the Fleishmanns and the Holmeses were some of the richest people in America. So, I think part of her psyche early on was trying to reclaim the glory of the past and [her father] also made sure to tell her about the failings of the younger generations, his grandfather and father, which squandered the family wealth and lived lives that weren’t purposeful. So, I think that whole trope was there, very much present, in her childhood.

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
  11. Great column, Fred. I can tell you don’t read lots of other unz stuff like Steve Sailer’s blog for instance. One might want to read his take on Holmes and Theranos here, and here on Takimag, as examples, to read more. I know he’s written 3 or more posts on this, under which the reader may find comments redundant for this article.

    You wrote the gist of this story very well, and I particularly appreciate the part about having smarts without hard-learned knowledge.

    I can also tell you don’t care too much, period anymore, as that picture of that Dworkin lady(?) cracked me up! Lots of eyes may have ignored that thinking its an embedded ad of some sort (for what, I have no early idea). It’s a good thing the long arm of the libel law doesn’t extend down to Old Mexico, or I’d be worried about that lady headed south to sit on you.

  12. Anonymous[327] • Disclaimer says:

    I think Ms. Holmes coterie of old men indulged in plain greed, plus a herd/gang mentality, rather than in lust. Theranos’ valuation was a lot more spectacular than Ms. Holmes’ assets. On a purely physical level, I find her doable… too skinny though.

    Theranos’ attempt to corner the market for lab tests via Walgreen’s and Safeway reminds me of Uber. Uber upended its market before cab regulators could react, but with the crucial difference that Uber delivered the goods (in the form of cheaper rides), but Uncle Clunk didn’t.

  13. kaleidic says:

    From Breaking Bad: “You don’t want a criminal lawyer… you want a criminal lawyer,” Jesse explains to Walt early in their partnership.

    • Agree: fitzGetty
    • LOL: ians
  14. On her board she got–yes–Henry everlovin’ Kissinger and James Mattis (uh-huh, that one,) and former Secretaries of State and Defense and just about every heavy hitter except Pope Francis.

    The so-called Pope was probably too worried about his Carbon Footprint to understand the investment road show. He’s will have plenty of blood on his hands anyway from the results of his encouragement of the invasion of Europe.

  15. The craziest thing is that Tim Draper is still out there defending her to anyone who will listen.

    Obvious fraud from the very beginning. Not only do women never invent things like this, but this woman was cosplaying as Steve Jobs.

    American society simply desperately wants female entrepreneurs for some reason.

    • Agree: Thomm
  16. @anonymous

    I’ve read that Holme’s deep voice is all an affectation . She’s faking it . The woman looks LOCO

  17. AKAHorace says:
    @Henry Barth

    I don’t find her attractive, but I think a lot of men would. She is a good representative of a sort of tall, athletic looking woman that many men can be charmed by. If you are a powerful male she might also be the kind of woman that you would want for a daughter.

    I don’t think that is most of why she was successful though. The best lies to tell are the ones that people want to hear. Hero s are supposed to be contemptuous of detail, but see the big picture. Inspiring speakers tell a powerful simple story, and don’t bore you with a lot of technical details. A bit of criticism might have even helped her reputation, if she got the right people to make it.

    • Replies: @Momus
  18. @bottle rocket

    She is faking it, and it’s obvious.

  19. I hope she’s got the $4.5billion well stashed. But not in crypto.

  20. She could always pose nude.

  21. Weird idea, ethics in a law firm.

    • Agree: Vojkan
  22. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:

    Great article Fred!

    This is so well written I wish you would write more on current event type issues like this.

    Two points.

    1) I don’t think Holms is that pretty. But she was operating out of Silicon Valley and working in an environment heavily skewed towards men.

    I’ve seen how this plays out first hand. If an IT department which is usually > 80% men has an attractive woman, that woman weilds an extraordinary amount of power and has the potential to cause all kinds of harm.

    All the guys in that department are usually really thirsty and all want to bang her even if she is only a 5/10 in a normal distribution. Not only that, but there are going to be internal power struggles within that department amongst the men to determine who the alpha is.

    So all the guys will try to please her to get on her good side because it boosts their own staus within that group.

    If you are an old guy with money and you are typically pitched by other men, Holmes is something different and I can definately see these guys getting taken advantage of even though Hilmes is not the typical looker.

    2) The other big thing is innovation. Innovation has been so ingrained into Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and even every day society that if you are an exec at Walgreens or Safeway you want to believe so badly that there is a magic device that will give you a big edge over the competition.

    I wouldn’t want to be the sane guy in that company who has to go against the fantasy of innovation.

  23. Anon[306] • Disclaimer says:

    Man(!)…what a tranny voice she has!

    Plus, how similar Theranos and Thanatos are, literally and figuratively.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanatos

  24. Anon[306] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    >”the company that offered so much promise with a mere drop of blood from a pricked finger surrounded itself with men who spilled millions of gallons of blood”

    And were pricks, too. (<:)

  25. Anon[306] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous

    >”it seems remarkable that Mr. Reed finds Ms. Holmes ‘very pretty … beautiful … so very appealing.’ ”

    As he confessed, “Holmes was…maybe the daughter or girlfriend or mistress that [old men like him] would have liked.”

    Reed is married to a stout, squarebox-butt beaner. Mayhap his eye wanders…and peen wonders.”

    • Replies: @dkshaw
    , @Anonymous
  26. Anon[306] • Disclaimer says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    >” I think the box from Hellraiser is more appropriate here”

    Not DUNE? http://tinyurl.com/y9lro4l9

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
  27. @The Alarmist

    Miss Holmes gave superlative snow-jobs,
    And perhaps even better you-know jobs—
    Husky-voiced hummers
    Dispensed to all comers;
    For foot-fetishists, maybe a toe-job.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  28. ians says:

    She’s a dog. No fool like an old fool.
    I’m a little surprised that no one had the cojones to split on her. Screw the heavy hitting lawyers, let them take you to court and see what happens would have been an option, surely?
    What has actually happened to her and those who helped perpetrate this fraud?

  29. TG says:

    Indeed. But this is just one example of a deeper rot in our culture.

    I own a small amount of stock in a few tech companies. AT&T, Exxon-Mobile… If you look at the board of directors, you will typically find NOBODY with a track record in the business. No electrical engineers at AT&T, last I checked not even a token petrochemical engineer at Exxon, etc. They are all from finance, or politics.

    And some of this I guess makes sense. For many big corporations, the knowledge needed to run them technically has been commoditized. You can get scientific and engineering talent for cheap from places like India, so that doesn’t matter, you can take it for granted – it’s finance and marketing that runs the show. Kind of like the Mandarin culture of old Imperial China, where actual physical skill was considered low class and not worthy of a gentleman.

    And consider our ‘defense’ industry – increasingly success does not come from delivering a quality product at a competitive price, but at knowing the right people to give you that sweetheart multi-billion dollar cost-plus no-delivery contract. You really think the contractors getting a billion dollars to build a water treatment plant that doesn’t work in Iraq need to know anything about civil engineering? That’s the future, baby. And it can go on for a while, on momentum and feeding off the success of the past, until it all runs out…

  30. Vojkan says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    Note that a nice side-effect of programming is that when you’re good at it, it leaves you a lot of free time to do stuff like acquiring knowledge. I had a colleague who spent his working day to become knowledgeable about the private lives of celebs. Having a lot of brains is not incompatible with being futile.

    • Agree: Andrei Martyanov
  31. I love that she was attending a meeting of the Board of Fellows at Harvard Med when Cramer interviewed her. That board is mostly made up of personages with “MBA” after their names and not e.g. PhD, “noted microbiologist” or “inventor of the famous eponymous surgical technique”.

  32. @Anon

    I don’t know enough about US law and legal practice but I find it strange that unhappy staff couldn’t find through their family or network of friends lawyers who were willing to take the initiative for them with all the threats of discovery and subpoenas to come once a suit has been launched for an order declaring them free from their confidentiality agreement. The first couple would probably be strung out then settled for half a million but it could get really interesting after that – or am I talking through my hat?

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  33. But superlawyer David Boies and his associate Heather King among others at the firm knew.

    Why not put these people in jail, too?

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  34. @TG

    They are all from finance, or politics

    And law. Specialists in the field with appropriate academic and industry backgrounds begin to appear on lower levels.

    That’s the future, baby. And it can go on for a while, on momentum and feeding off the success of the past, until it all runs out…

    It is already a present, but I agree with you.

  35. @Anon

    Not DUNE?

    That works too, as long as Gom Jabbar is used in the end.

  36. @anonymous

    IMO It would be unfair to say Holmes is ugly but its also wrong to call her beautiful, she’s like most of us, somewhere in the middle, she has her good days and her bad

    • Replies: @Vojkan
  37. @Wizard of Oz

    .. – or am I talking through my hat?

    That depends on where you’ve placed your hat. …. or I guess I’ve always heard “… talking through my ass”.

    Anyway, Wizard, I don’t think you are, but I’m no lawyer either. I believe that there are too many people who didn’t trust their own judgement when faced with the big shots, high-self-esteeem Silicon Valley crowd, tough-talking lawyers, etc. There were probably plenty of people who though logically couldn’t see how this whole thing couldn’t come crashing down, had these feelings that told them, “No, listen to this power-girrl talk, and everyone seems pretty confident. Nah! It must be me. Forget it, and get back to programming.”

    Sometimes you’ve got to listen to your inner thoughts that tell you you’re right and screw every one of the smart-sounding liars. If you were first to break this thing, sure you’d hear threats from the lawyers, but unless they hacked your car, you’d come out good in the end, as you say.

  38. @Bardon Kaldian

    Why not put these people in jail, too?

    ALL the lawyers??

    Splendid Idea!

    • Replies: @seeing-thru
  39. @TG

    AGREED!

    (Great comment, TG.)

  40. Escher says:

    Very pretty? Mr Reed must have been wearing beer goggles while writing this.

  41. @Reg Cæsar

    Indeed, Reg. That would settle the matter … I mean, never underestimate the power of poontang. I’m pretty sure showing herself nude would negate all further matters of due process. Plus, it would settle the matter of whether … well, you know … that voice and all.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  42. @Herbertt

    Americans are always grinning because they’re narcisstic pigs.

    • Replies: @Mj
  43. @the one they call Desanex

    One of your best, TOTCD! I had thought, after one of your limericks recently in which the meter was, say, a bit stretched, that maybe you’d quit drinking or something. ;-}

    Let me try:

    Miss Holmes and her project Theranos
    took the geeks on like mano-a-manos.
    Though it turned out a dud
    when one tried to draw blood,
    the cash return beat the Sopranos.

  44. She convinced Kissinger and Mattis to jump onboard after a few swallows. Inhaling golf balls through garden hoses is her real speciality. She has a face I would like to punch.

  45. Having worked at a biotech startup that folded (my work was electronics and control/instrumentation side for a prototype), the result is unsurprising. Usually entrepreneurs are none too bright, but have engineers and scientists who do the real lifting, while the entrepreneur wines and dines potential investors. The problem is that the entrepreneur will want input to the design, that he (or she) is wholly unqualified to make. If the entrepreneur (CEO) has free time, best to use it in manual labour, but that reverses the hierarchy, which is why the best CEOs are from farms. Some whiz kid, who is not used to hearing no, will end up in a situation where they need to engage in fraud and/or gimmicks to keep the investors turned sharks away.

    • Replies: @Liberty Mike
  46. @Thorfinnsson

    Yes, but as the VC in this case and a fiduciary to his LPs, he has lots of explaining to do for this debacle.

  47. @Anon

    Indeed Boies is the lawyer here, but he was also on the Board of Directors. He owes a fiduciary duty to all the Theranos shareholders. If he abetted a fraud here, he’s in big trouble. Had he just been Theranos’ counsel, or even Holnes’ personal lawyer, it’s a very different situation.

    • Replies: @tyrone
  48. Forbes covered this story fairly well, from its start to finish, though apparently it’s not finished

    But whatever else may be true about her,

    she is not just one of the guys. And she wears black well.

    I think it’s a tale of offering more than was possible that spiraled beyond her ability to manage. You have a great idea of an idea that becomes great and it takes off, , it would be hard to stop that train muchless pull it back into the station.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  49. Momus says:

    This is UR. Where is the heavy Jewish conspiracy connection?

    In other news Andrea Dworkin reportedly weighed over 400 lbs at death and they needed a cherry picker and the door frame removed from her first floor flat to remove the corpse.

    • Replies: @BenKenobi
  50. Moi says:

    Rampant capitalism’s sine qua non for success are greed and corruption.

    ps: but, dang, Lizzie is hot :-)

    • Replies: @EliteCommInc.
  51. I also read the book “Bad Blood”. True to Fred Reed expectations, this is a (very) entertaining and hilarious review of this book.

  52. @bottle rocket

    The baritone was a fake – this is now well known. I can’t believe people couldn’t hear this from the get-go – it gives me the creeps.

  53. Holmes was a honey, slender, very pretty, well-groomed, appealing, smart, and maybe the daughter or girlfriend or mistress that her prey would have liked.

    Actually not. Holmes is very pretty, but has absolutely no sex appeal whatsoever. She reminds me of Paris Hilton, another attractive blonde who has absolutely no sex appeal.

    Fred, you should know this because you said it herself some years ago on your blog. Contrary to the beliefs of the feminists, most men appreciate a woman who can keep up with. Most guys like a girlfriend or wife who will go hiking and scuba diving with them and most fathers will fight tooth and nail to ensure their daughters get the same opportunities in university and career as their sons.

    If you read the book carefully, Holmes did not use sex appeal on all of these old heavy hitters on her board. She used her persona as the prodigy daughter “that they all wish they had but had not” as the means to con these men. Carreyrou actually says this in the book. Being pretty helps, but was not the key here. Being the prodigy was.

  54. I would rather have all my brain removed based on a Theranos-generated false diagnostic than having enough of it left behind to realize the horror of my situation.

    Just sayin’

  55. @anonymous

    She is far closer to pretty than ugly. Just because she is white, blonde and slim may not necessarily mean she is pretty, but it, per se, eliminates ugly.

    Maxine Waters, on the other hand, is far closer to ugly than pretty.

    • Replies: @Rdm
    , @Truth
  56. De gustibus non est disputandum, but I find her deep voice (real or fake) erotic.

    As for looks, she’s a good looking woman, although nothing spectacular (Fred, being in Mejico, must have developed a serious case of Nordic deprivation). Good thing about her is that’s she’s not fat yet, and I prefer them skinny, even to the point of archetypal Auschwitz look (gross Andrea Dworkin will suffice as a counterexample).

    So, what about Kissinger, Mattis & other powerful geriatrics?

    I think Steve Sailer was right: she was daughter they have never had.

  57. @Johan Meyer

    In my experience, it is the entrepreneur, the visionary that makes things happen, not the worker bees, including engineers and scientists.

    Worker bees are worker bees.

    • Replies: @renfro
    , @annamaria
  58. @Achmed E. Newman

    ” It’s a good thing the long arm of the libel law doesn’t extend down to Old Mexico, or I’d be worried about that lady headed south to sit on you.”

    Even if libel law extended into Mexico, who would volunteer to serve the papers on Fred? How many Mexican politicos, judges, cops, lawyers killed, jailed and on the lamb year to date?

  59. turtle says:

    But, but,…she went to Stannnford.!
    I bet if she had granulated from (let alone dropped out of), e.g., Kansas State, Henry the K & Co. would not have come calling.
    Just sayin’.

  60. @Achmed E. Newman

    Thanks, Achmed. I like your limerick, too. You may have the knack.

  61. tyrone says:
    @Captain Willard

    If you expect the Cohen treatment wake up you’re dreaming he’s fixed with the demoncats and fake news.

  62. @Bardon Kaldian

    Damn You, Bardon! Enough stresses for one day–first Germany is out of WC, now this. I need a drink;)) LOL.

  63. Mj says:
    @Chuck U Farley

    That, and a large fraction consume psychiatric drugs.

  64. Momus says:
    @AKAHorace

    She is about a #7 on the Roissy scale for facial attractiveness and well below for physicality, sex appeal and sunny nature.

    • Replies: @nickels
  65. nickels says:
    @Momus

    Her talents are real.
    She is a FANTASTIC liar, world class.

  66. Anonymous[230] • Disclaimer says:

    Man, Fred has been muff-diving the mud people for so long, this deformed gnome, Holmes, is suddenly “very pretty” and “very attractive”. It’s like those crazy hallucinations people get after too much time in a sensory deprivation tank.

  67. @Bardon Kaldian

    See, that’s what I’m talking about – if you’re not tall, dark, and handsome yourself, Mr. Kaldian, why are you being so picky? I supposed that’s why you beta guys go find those 95 lb. Oriental chicks, you race traitors … [/Rosie*]

    No, in all seriousness, you really should put this stuff below the FOLD(S). Anyone who is reading this, QUICK, QUICK, HERE —> MASH THIS NOW!

    * Sorry, Rosie, if you’re reading, heh!

  68. renfro says:

    When federal regulatory agencies issued a long, detailed investigative report making it absolutely clear that Theranos did not even come close to legality, and was therefore endangering lives–

    This is why I go against those who want to get rid of all regulatory agencies. The major ones like the FDA, the USDA , were created for ”good reason”….to protect the health of the public.
    That some are corrupted by politics isn’t a “good reason” to ditch them…..it is a good reason to ‘un corrupt ‘them so they can serve the public good as they were suppose to.

    • Replies: @EliteCommInc.
  69. @Moi

    a lot of what is going on in the market place is not capitalism — it’s mercantilism there is a difference.

  70. renfro says:
    @Liberty Mike

    In my experience, it is the entrepreneur, the visionary that makes things happen, not the worker bees, including engineers and scientists.

    Sorry, but they go together like a horse and buggy, like a boat and motor. The visionary cant bring his vision ‘ to life ‘ without the worker bees….and workers bees don’t have as many jobs without some new entrepreneur vision.
    Vanderbilt and Gould had to hire workers bees to lay tracks to make their railroad a reality. Ford had to hire worker bees to put the Model T on the roads. Salk’s polio vaccine had to be mass produced by workers bees for the public.

    • Replies: @Escher
  71. I believe Heather King also ran interference for Harvey Weinstein against reporters threatening to expose him before it all blew up.

  72. Dr. X says:
    @anonymous

    She’s not bad looking, but she’s got a weird, fake-looking quality… like a blow-up sex doll or something.

  73. @renfro

    look, either the product worked or it did not. If it didn’t it would not be purchased. That is how the system is supposed to work. You create a product, people invest, you supply and if people like it they but it.

    She had a simple idea. blood testing on the spot for multiple conditions and far less than current expenses – convenient and cheap. if it worked as described bingo. if not continued development or simply a failed venture.

    i am not going to defend the process of defending a product that the agency knew was flawed, but among miscreant behavior — nothing surpasses the tactics of the real estate mbs mortgages and they seem to have gotten away with it as tax payer expense.

    Nor would I defend the process of waiting out a customers service to steal their money by claiming they waited too long to bring the issues to their attention —- mercantilism.

  74. annamaria says:
    @Liberty Mike

    “…the worker bees, including engineers and scientists.” — from “Liberty Mike”
    – The US is saturated with entrepreneurs, unlike the native engineers and scientists who are in short supply here.
    The Theranos story is a great exposure of the Ignoramuses in Charge.
    Holmes is a visionary. And she is a very talented entrepreneur, considering the roster of investors that she has managed to attract. Her problem was/is that she is an empty vessel with regard to an honest training in something. “She also knows almost nothing of the sciences, and nothing at all of the electronic or mechanical engineering, or of medical instrumentation.”
    Her plebeian ignorance (which also explains her amazing self-confidence) should have qualified her for a working bee at best.
    Here is more about the fate of the experts, as compared to the “entrepreneurs” in the US: https://billmoyers.com/content/slideshow-six-whistleblowers-charged-under-the-espionage-act/2/
    “One program, called Trailblazer, was being built by an outside contractor for $1.2 billion; the other, known as ThinThread, was created in-house by a legendary crypto-mathematician named Bill Binney for about $3 million.”
    “Did Hayden’s flawed decisions [incompetence] make America more vulnerable? ” — Yes, they did. hhttps://www.justsecurity.org/47632/hayden-nsa-road-911/
    “Hayden decided not to use ThinThread… Instead, he funded a rival approach, called Trailblazer, and he turned to private defense contractors to build …” They wanted a big machine that could make Martinis, too.” … Meanwhile, there was nothing to show for Trailblazer, other than mounting bills. As the system stalled at the level of schematic drawings, top executives kept shuttling between jobs at the agency and jobs with the high-paying contractors. For a time, both Hayden’s deputy director and his chief of signals-intelligence programs worked at saic, a company that won several hundred million dollars in Trailblazer contracts. In 2006, Trailblazer was abandoned as a $1.2-billion flop.” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/05/23/the-secret-sharer

    • Replies: @Liberty Mike
  75. @Achmed E. Newman

    Sorry, not a splendid idea at all. Just think: where would you house all those shysters in a jail? Put them all together and they would gouge each others’ eyes out in no time. Put them in with the other prisoners and the lawyers would get ripped apart by the gentlemen deprived of their money by these lawyers. That leaves solitary. Well, who is going to pay for their upkeep?

    Think smart, think environmentally clean, think low cost. Think along lines of a large tank of sharks. Low cost. Environmentally clean. In tune with nature. Poetic justice as well: Sharks eating up sharks.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  76. @Anon

    Hilarious! Excellent sense of seeing the irony in the situation: ” So, the company that offered so much promise with a mere drop of blood from …..”

  77. @Achmed E. Newman

    LOL, a mighty good one. The last line (“the cash return beat the Sopranos”) delivers a full business education, short and sweet.

  78. macilrae says:

    I started a company on a shoestring – with no venture money whatever. I too claimed to have a game-changing machine – but I jumped on a plane with it every time anybody expressed interest and demonstrated my claims were true within 30 mins of arriving at their place.

    Suddenly we were told “You are dead in the water! This California company has just announced that they have succeeded in making your machine on a single silicon chip and they just raised $8M to bring it to market – you are dead, man!” Talk is cheap but it alone raises millions.

    Well, it was the silicon chip that got them all that money but, guess what: although they furnished some beautiful offices and each executive (there were quite a few) had a COMPUTER on their desk (this was the 1980s) although all this, the damn thing never worked!

    My company carried on up to around $20M in sales worldwide and pretty decent success – still with no venture money – before getting snapped up by a big concern; which promptly fumbled the ball as they usually do.

    It’s a true story.

  79. Rdm says:

    She is very smart, very driven, very self-confident, very glib, very cold-blooded, very manipulative, very willing to take risks, very pretty, and very ruthless. Everything about her is very. If the foregoing resembles the clinical description of a psychopath, there is a reason.

    I’m sure Fred would find Roseanne Barr peculiarly attractive.

  80. Rdm says:
    @Liberty Mike

    White genes definitely eliminate ugly.

  81. Ron says:

    There is one important fact that we may have overlooked. Just like the cost of medications, the cost of blood tests in the USA is irrationally high, and causes much deprivation, pain and anxiety in our dysfunctional healthcare system. Here is an example. I recently tried to obtain a prescribed drug but my private insurance would not pay for it ($287) – I eventually found a coupon on the internet to buy it at my local grocery store for $17 without insurance. Similarly with blood testing of all sorts there is profit and confusion in excess. Here, the costs are exorbitant, out of control and irrational, except if your insurance pays for it and in that case your insurer may have negotiated a better price. Theranos offered the hope of doing such testing on demand for any citizen, with minimal inconvenience and very low cost. This must have been a huge existential threat to the industry. At the present time a blood test is prescribed by your physician and you or your insurer become the victim of a group of companies and industries that make the pharmaceutical industry look like generous and humane benefactors. The entire healthcare industry is at play in this arena. Therefore, in my opinion it is possible that Theranos was punished by a huge and predatory industrial cartel for daring to suggest that blood tests should be offered to all (in their corner drug store) on demand and at a reasonable cost. Many startup companies have great ideas or ideals and no technology; they develop the technology in the years after the company starts research operations. It is claimed that Theranos may have never developed the technology and may be guilty of fraud. Nonetheless, Theranos has pointed out an obvious need in this country that is not being met. Even the appreciation of this reality seems to have been suppressed. In my humble opinion, a company like Theranos, even with modest improvements in technology, could provide the average citizen with rapid and convenient blood testing on demand at an affordable cost.

  82. Avery says:
    @Ron

    { except if your insurance pays for it}

    Insurance doesn’t really pay for it: the pool of people who are paying insurance premiums pays for everything. Insurance companies sit between the doctor and the patient, take a cut, and try their best _not_ to pay when the patient needs medical bills paid. Insurance executives then make multi-million dollar salaries from the premiums paid by people who can barely afford to make the payments.

    The whole thing is a scam.
    What value are insurance companies adding to the equation that company execs deserve multi-million dollar paychecks and bonuses?

    • Replies: @utu
  83. @seeing-thru

    I see you’ve put a lot of though into this. Yes, I’m all for reducing our carbon footprints with the lawyers. I’m looking forward to strolling on the beach sometime and exclaiming “hey, y’all, I’ve found another lawyers’ tooth.”

    I’m glad you liked the limerick too, ST.

  84. @Ron

    Nonetheless, Theranos has pointed out an obvious need in this country that is not being met.

    Theranos hasn’t pointed out jack-squat. Even if the product were to have revolutionized this convoluted lab process, their intention, like any business, was to make money. If they could have gotten into the big healthcare quagmire to make more profits, they’d have done that too, Ron.

    Look, I miss the long-lost free-market in healthcare as much as anyone. The solution to it will only come after the crash. All the government involvement over the years have had the effect of making it impossible to go back to free-market without lots of short-term financial pain (for some) that is more even than what we are getting rectumized with presently.

  85. Ol' Fogey says:

    “Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.”

  86. Truth says:
    @anonymous

    I can’t even think of an attractive woman whom she resembles

    .

    “She.”

    LOL

  87. Truth says:
    @Liberty Mike

    …Well now, that person is 79.

  88. Vojkan says:
    @(((They))) Live

    Let’s say that her good daddy’s girl look may be fashionable in the circles of the male hags who sat at the board of her company.

  89. Vojkan says:

    Out of curiosity, I watched the video of her interview. I didn’t see the person the author described. There are flaws in her discourse but she doesn’t look as a psycho to me. She shows signs of anxiety, as someone who realises that she miscalculated the game she entered and sees no way out. That’s not how psychos behave. Reed is being simplistic. Sailer is in my opinion closer to the truth. The lady simply doesn’t fit the ‘dirty dozen’ model.

  90. Vojkan says:

    And since comments are closed on Sailer’s article, I’ll put it here. For those unfamiliar with industrial processes, the “fake-it-’til-u-make-it” phase is also called ‘prototyping’ (a euphemism always sounds better than the raw description) and is a widespread practice. Ask big labs or defence contractors. I don’t condone it, just sayin’ there’s more to this story than “the girl looked to good to be true”.

  91. @Vojkan

    The fake it until you make it is purely to keep investors from asking rhetorical questions that are used for power plays regarding ownership structures. The reason why that aspect is (wrongly) conflated with prototyping is precisely the show-and-tell bs that CEOs pull to keep the (power playing) investors off their necks. Unfortunately, after a while, many CEOs will begin to believe their own lies.

    A legitimate prototype comes after bench scale experiments have clarified various variables that are usually implied but not stated in the literature. But real research takes money and time, which goes against the instant gratification mindset of venture capitalists and managers of established businesses. Thus successful (for the time being) businesses will sell off their RandD divisions for a short term profit, the CEO takes the golden parachute, and five years later, when the new products that the RandD divisions would have developed, are missing, the established company is in a crisis. Selling off the RandD is akin to autocastration, with a mindset akin to the non-gathering of seed stipulation for which Monsatan is notorious.

    For a startup, such a mentality is even more unworkable.

    • Replies: @Vojkan
  92. Vojkan says:
    @Johan Meyer

    I agree with you. A prototype, if we take the word for what it means, is supposed to actually work and that’s why I wrote ‘is called’ and not just ‘is’.
    My point was that doing what everybody else does doesn’t qualify her for the title of ‘public enemy nr. 1′, neither does what I saw in the video. What did I see in the video? I saw a person who went through a whole set of emotions before facing the camera and who only finishes gathering herself when the interview starts. In the beginning, you don’t see her hands, she keeps her head still, and I believe the tone of her voice is somewhat lower than her natural tone.
    Later, in the part after the interviewer tells that the device works for only fifteen tests not the two hundred some it’s advertised to do, she is nodding and her hands appear. Now, she may be the über-psychopath if all her body language is faked but I’m permitted to doubt. Also, I may be wrong because I watched the video only once. Nevertheless, what I think is that though she’s undoubtedly very ambitious, she looked more like someone stuck before a frozen screen desperately seeking the ‘reset’ button and that after the ‘only fifteen tests work’ she saw the mouse cursor moving b/c she no longer felt the complete fraud she was alleged to be. That’s hardly how psychopaths react. That’s how overwhelmed people react.
    In short, I didn’t see a psycho, I saw a patsie. So I wonder, why this character assassination stuff? I dare not think that the folks here at Unz do it just because she’s a woman.

    PS: I know a psycho when I see one, I have plenty of them in my own family.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=dark+triad+dirty+dozen+test

  93. utu says:
    @Avery

    What value are insurance companies adding to the equation that company execs deserve multi-million dollar paychecks and bonuses?

    Exactly. It is possible there is more to the story than what Fred Simplicius Simplicissimus Reed can figure out about it.

  94. And now, Achmed E. Kasem presents a Long-Distance Dedication from the Peak Stupidity blog to the forlorn destitute big-money Theranos investors, whose hope and faith in this gold-dust whiz-girl have vanished into thin air and penny-valuations:

    “Did she make you cry,
    make you break down,
    shatter your illusions of love.
    And is it over now. Do you know how
    to pick up the pieces and go home?”

    Missrs Kissinger, Mattis, Boies, I hope you all are listening tonight. Keep your feet on the ground, and keeping reaching for the stars.

  95. OT
    but always relevant
    Very good articles and analysis of the most important issues of our time at fight
    white genocide dot com. Of course type the address without the spaces. The writers are very focused and many encouraging things to be found. Cheers!

  96. @Vojkan

    No, prototyping is absolutely NOT “fake-it-till-you-make-it” unless the boss in corrupt. Prototyping in engineering (I’m not talking about computer software here) means making a working device, but without the packaging, improvements toward optimization, and possibly some more features that make work even better.

    • Replies: @Vojkan
  97. dkshaw says:
    @Anon

    Wow. You’re kind of an asshole, aren’t you?

  98. @annamaria

    That one is an engineer or scientist does not thereby mean that one cannot be an entrepreneur. Nothing in my post suggested otherwise.

    However, just because one possesses some engineering or scientific expertise does not thereby mean that one possesses insight, leadership, and vision.

    One is not special just because one is an engineer or scientist. On the other hand, an entrepreneur is more apt to be special than a non-entrepreneurial engineer or scientist.

    • Replies: @annamaria
  99. MarkinLA says:
    @EliteComminc.

    Does anybody still remember the dot com boom. How many Theranos’ were there then?

  100. MarkinLA says:
    @Ron

    The problem was that she had no science to back up her claims. She hadn’t done any animal testing or anything to show she actually had a product that would work. Medical product start ups won’t get the big bucks until they actually show some promise. One company we bought made a device that was supposed to give heart failure patients advance warning they were getting too far off the scale by measuring pressure in the left ventricle. They didn’t get near the money this did. The product did not get enough people for clinical trials and it was a failure as another company making something similar was also purchased and they had a superior product.

  101. @anonymous

    She’s not model pretty, but she’s definitely CEO pretty. Especially considering how badly SJWs covet non-white/cismale/hetero blah blah blah CEOs, she was like manna from heaven. Everyone was so blinded by this young, white, female, “smart” CEO that by the time they realized she had taken everyone for a ride, it was too late.

    TLDR….would bang, then ghost.

  102. annamaria says:
    @Liberty Mike

    And how do you know that “entrepreneur is more apt to be special than a non-entrepreneurial engineer or scientist?”
    Perhaps you missed the relevant portion of my post: “Holmes is a visionary. And she is a very talented entrepreneur, considering the roster of investors that she has managed to attract. Her problem was/is that she is an empty vessel with regard to an honest training in something. She knows “almost nothing of the sciences, and nothing at all of the electronic or mechanical engineering, or of medical instrumentation.” Her plebeian ignorance (which also explains her amazing self-confidence) should have qualified her for a working bee at best.”
    Incompetence, ignorance, and the lack of expertise go hand in hand with the disrespect towards the hard-won expertise of others.
    As for the Trailblazer story, the hideous Hayden has been recognized as very special by the state and by the war profiteers of contractor kind. Hayden, the traitorous “manager,” not only has squandered the $1.2 billion of taxpayers money, he destroyed a working (functioning) program created by a high-level expert (specialist in his field) for a fraction of $1.2 billion. Moreover, the entrepreneurial Hayden put a whistle-blower to prison when the story of Hayden’s treasonous incompetence became known to the wider public. Like the despicable (and equally ugly) Madeline Albright, Hayden continuous to showing up for sharing his “wisdom.”
    You may want to re-read the biography of Andrew Carnegie to get a sense of what makes a person a real entrepreneur.

    • Replies: @Liberty Mike
    , @prusmc
  103. gwynedd1 says:

    Homes became FAP material the moment I thought she would end up in prison.

  104. Vojkan says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Or how sarcasm is lost on people who take everything literally. I know what prototyping is, and I believe most people who come here do, thank you, that’s why I wrote ‘is called prototyping’ not ‘is prototyping’. And yes, calling prototyping what isn’t prototyping but is indeed fake-it-until-you-make-it is a widespread practice because to build something you need investment, to get investment you need to show something, to show something you need to build it, to build something… you get the point. That’s not how it should work but that’s how it works very, very often.
    What Mrs Holmes did is far from exceptional, many others have done it and do it, so why the fuss and why this character assassination campaign? It is even possible that she did it with the best intentions and that she genuinely believed that what she wanted was technically possible. Given the names involved, I very much doubt that she was so presomptious as to think that she could strip the investors she attracted of their money and get away with it. I have no horse in the race but I am always irritated by scapegoating and this article does just that without even trying to scratch the surface to see if there’s possibly more to this story. Oh, and in my opinion, Fred Reed is not best suited to call Elizabeth Holmes a psychopath.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  105. MarkinLA says:
    @Vojkan

    Don’t you have to apply the beer goggles effect instead?

    https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/beer-goggles.htm

    • Replies: @Vojkan
  106. @annamaria

    My asseveration that entrepreneurs are more apt to be special than non-entrepreneurial engineers and scientists is a normative assertion. The basis upon which I make the assertion is my life experience coupled with my understanding of human nature and my reading of history.

    Let me analogize to the gridiron. The quarterback is almost universally regarded as the most important position on a football team. The quarterback position in the National Football League is undoubtedly the most important position on the football team. In fact, a quarterback is probably the most important position in all of team sports.

    One may retort that the quarterback does not do the dirty work of other offensive positions. The quarterback does not have to keep on-rushing defensive ends and outside linebackers from knocking the quarterback into next week. That job is left to the left tackle and the right tackle. The quarterback does not have to prevent a nose tackle or inside linebacker from bull rushing the quarterback and driving him into the ground. No, that job is for the interior offensive lineman such as the center and the left and right guards. The offensive lineman operate in the trenches; they engage in hand-to-hand combat; and they sustain far more aches and pains than does the quarterback.

    Like the entrepreneur, the quarterback is the leader. Teams almost always look for leadership from the quarterback position. Why? Because the quarterback either calls the plays or must execute that which the head coach or offensive coordinator has called, but even when the coach is calling the plays, the quarterback must make a pre-snap read to determine whether the play called by the coach makes sense. The quarterback must survey the entire field and be able to recognize the defensive alignment and what the defense will probably do at the time the ball is snapped. This requires a great deal of film study, the ability to make quick assessments and judgments along with being able to effectively communicate with the players on offense.

    In other words, the quarterback is the field general. Beyond that, he has to be able to throw the football with accuracy and with touch. He has to be able to elude the rush in order to avoid a sack and he needs to be able to take a hit.

    The quarterback does not have to be the best athlete. He does not have to be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest player. But, he has to be a leader and he generally should be the smartest player.

    If the quarterback is not a good leader or is not a good communicator or does not take the time to perfect his craft, his team will not fare very well – even if the quarterback is a terrific athlete with a cannon for an arm.

    Note that I have not contended that ALL entrepreneurs are special or that ALL entrepreneurs are good or better human beings than non-entrepreneurial engineers or scientists.

    Note, too, that I am not arguing that there are no evil, reprehensible entrepreneurs. There most certainly are. Ms. Holmes certainly qualifies.

    We agree that Madeline Albright is despicable and ugly.

    • Replies: @Liberty Mike
  107. @Liberty Mike

    The entrepreneur is like a quarterback. The entrepreneur is the quarterback of the enterprise.

    The good entrepreneur must have an understanding of most, if not all, of the components of the enterprise. She may not have the technical expertise of all of the people who the enterprise employs, including the engineers and scientists, but she must be able to generate business without which the engineers and scientists would not be paid.

    The entrepreneur must be able to hire marketing and sales people, accountants, attorneys, compliance staff, creative staff, computer and IT professionals, and so forth. It is her vision which gives birth to the enterprise, and her vision alone.

  108. @Vojkan

    Sorry, I didn’t read your post slowly enough, Voj. I agree with you that the lady is not a psychopath, because if she is, then we have millions of them – good for the horror movie bidness, but not for the rest of us. The story is not just about this “whiz-girl” losing her investors’ money; it’s about why they all got into this half-baked thing to begin with (yes, it does remind me of internet bubble 1.0).

    This IS an interesting story, and I like Mr. Reed’s writing here on it. However, you should read Steve Sailer’s Takimag article (unfortunately commenting is gone from that site – been a few months now) and look up his 3 or 4 posts on Theranos here on unz.com.

    • Replies: @Vojkan
    , @Sparkon
  109. Anonymous[290] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    Don’t forget Fred does not see very well. He once posted, when criticised for typos, that he can not see them. War injury. Almost blind.

    • Replies: @dkshaw
  110. @Anon

    Disclosure: IANAL, but my partner of 25 years is, and I’ve helped her strategise on dozens of occasions because I’m pretty good at Game Theory.

    Maybe Non-Disclosure Agreements should be banned.

    That would be massively problematic: NDAs (and their client-oriented corollaries – Non-Compete Agreements) are a critical part of the mechanisms that firms use to prevent their key staff from being poached, taking development knowledge with them to the new firm and being able to exploit it commercially.

    If NDAs didn’t exist, firms would have to find other ways to compartmentalise development data so that it was not exploitable by any single individual (or any single team), which would add significantly to costs, and would slow progress so much that it would be noticeable at a macroeconomic level. (It could be done by deferring compensation to development teams through stock options, but that’s already near its feasible limit).

    Besides…

    It wasn’t the existence of an NDA per se that was the problem.

    An NDA is unenforceable if the disclosure concerns a criminal act; any attempt to sue for NDA violation if the disclosure is of fraud, is doomed to fail bigly.

    However a ‘known losing’ case is no big deal if your underlying aim is to beggar the whistleblower, and send up a big flag to other potential whistleblowers saying “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here” (or “Here There Be Dragons“).

    In instances like this, the NDA is just a useful trigger that can be deployed readily and at relatively low cost: it’s simple to gussy up a plausible statement of claim that asserts that the disclosure violated the NDA, even if the plaintiff[1] (Theranos) knows, full well, that they will lose the action if it ever sees the inside of a courtroom.

    Contrast this with alternative causes in action that were available to Theranos: for example, claiming that the facts disclosed are materially, knowingly false, are not ‘pure opinion’, and are therefore defamatory… well, that’s harder to frame, and invites a bunch of hearings (e.g., anti-SLAPP motions; motions for summary dismissal) that are not expensive.

    If you’re going to try to litigate someone into the poorhouse, it’s best to do things that don’t cost too much to prepare; that don’t have straightforward mechanisms for early review an dismissal; and don’t have legislated coutnermeasures in the case you’re discovered to be litigating just to hurt your opponent.

    Defamation claims (as an example) almost always “bespoke”. Defamation ‘precedents’ – pre-prepared, “fill in the blanks” versions of documents – are extremely sparse because the facts at issue are very different in each case.

    On the flipside: NDA-related precedents are really comprehensive – because for a given firm, the facts at issue can be framed in pretty much the same way every time. Also, there’s no anti-SLAPP equivalent for an NDA action (which is pretty much a breach of contract action for a highly-specific breach), so the defendant/respondent has very little chance of early relief or getting the thing shut down.

    So if you had decided to sue a former employee into the poorhouse, and you had the option of an NDA violation, you would choose that. If you didn’t have that option, you wouldn’t abanadon the plan to make the guy’s life suck: you would just choose a different litigation strategy.

    And the thing is: regardless of the selected strategy, the thing that kills your opponent is the costs. Even if you lose, and have to pay your target’s costs, courts are usually loath to award anything more than ‘schedule’ costs, which do not cover actual costs.

    As a worked example: if I sued you in my jurisdiction, and we had a 4-day trial and I lost, and costs were awarded against me, I would have to pay you the ‘schedule’ of $1750 per day, plus a couple of days’ prep at $1500.

    $10k… that’s what I pay (in addition to my own costs, of course), but I still get to see you suffer.

    Because…

    Your actual costs would be $5000 a day, minimum (decent advocates are pricey), and the prep would be of the order of 10 days @ $3500-4500.

    So you won, you got ‘costs’… and you went backwards by about 50 grand.

    And if I’m a company, there’s a non-trivial chance that my insurance will cover the costs to me, and/or I will already have accrued a reserve to cover it.

    So I got to impose costs roughly equal to a year’s post-tax salary on you, as desired.

    .

    That‘s the problem: not only is there no mechanism to adequately punish abuse of the legal system as a mechanism for corporate vengeance… but also, the victims wind up significantly worse off, if they do not back down immediately.

    So the ‘right’ solution is not to do away with NDAs: it is to give courts the power to force unsuccessful plaintiffs to pay their counterparties’ full costs, and also to make unrequested awards to defendants/respondents in the event that the plaintiff fails to make their case.

    [1] I’ve used ‘plaintiff’ and ‘defendant’ for the two sides of the dispute, whereas ‘applicant’ and ‘respondent’ are more appropriate most of the time.

    • Replies: @Diversity Heretic
  111. Joe Wong says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    Somehow I found Elizabeth Holmes resembled Margaret Thatcher, the creepiness, the look, the voice, the tone, the way she talks and other very (very smart, very driven, very self-confident, very glib, very cold-blooded, very manipulative, very willing to take risks, very pretty, and very ruthless.) A very unique trait of Anglo.

  112. Escher says:
    @renfro

    Steve Jobs needed worker bees to make his concepts actually work.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  113. @Achmed E. Newman

    Mx. Dworkin left the candy aisle in 2005. She carried a crushing weight and although she couldn’t be missed, she will be.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  114. Vojkan says:
    @MarkinLA

    I’d have to drink a lot, lot of beer. No matter how much I drink, it doesn’t alter my perception of reality, it only makes me go to the bathroom.

  115. Vojkan says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Though I often find myself in disagreement with his writings, I concede that Mr Reed’s style is entertaining. However, accusing someone of being a psychopath without real evidence is a very serious matter. Next is the accusation of murder without real evidence.
    Holmes is no Steve Jobs, maybe she imagined to be but she isn’t. She appears to be a daddy’s girl too spoiled to focus on acquiring any specific competence, but very intelligent and too eager to prove her worth in the world of grown-ups. That doesn’t make her a psycho, let alone a murderer. The crime for which she has been sentenced is nothing extraordinary.
    Psychopaths are not crazies, they perceive reality, they know what is moral and what isn’t, except that they choose to ignore principles in the pursuance of their goals. They are remorseless, callous, cynical and they consider that the end justifies the means. Those are the four traits of psychopaths. The body language I saw in the video doesn’t betray those traits.
    So why all the fuss? The focus on Holmes’s personality to explain the gigantic mess up makes me think that there is a lot more to this story than what is told. As for commenters who howl with the pack, well, it speaks more about them than about Holmes.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    , @Anon
  116. WhiteWolf says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Some people want all sorts of entrepreneurs as long as they aren’t straight, White and male. If they can classify as a diversity statistic then they’ll be promoted.

  117. Joe Wong says:
    @Vojkan

    Are you saying your words must be taken as given truth? Aren’t you very dictatorial? In according to democracy, majority rules and their opinion is the truth. If the majority opinions here said Elizabeth Holmes was psychopath shouldn’t she is a psychopath in according to democracy?

    • Replies: @Vojkan
  118. Vojkan says:
    @Joe Wong

    No, I don’t expect my word to be taken as given truth but, given the record of democratic regimes with regards to the rule of majority bringing psychopaths to power, fresh examples that spring to my mind are Hillary Clinton getting the majority of the popular vote in the USA and the election of Emmanuel Macron as president of France, I’ll take the risk to go against the opinion of the majority and base mine on what concrete traits define a psychopath and not what the majority thinks ;-)

  119. MarkinLA says:
    @Escher

    Actually without Wozniak there never would have been a Jobs. Wozniak developed a controller for external memory (I think it was for disk drives). Without it there would have been no viable PC at that time. Jobs was the driving force behind later Apple computers but without the resources from the Apple II, they would have never gotten off the ground.

    I think most people know, Jobs is famous for stiffing the engineers working for him.

    • Replies: @Avery
  120. Sparkon says:

    People wanted a female Steve Jobs,

    Really? This person didn’t, and I was an early owner of an Apple II+, but it’s a nice simplistic notion that the Apple Cult of Mac fanboys and their fellow travelers will latch onto with some force

    Even now it seems about half the people who comment here think Steve Jobs invented the black turtleneck.

    Apple succeeded despite Steve Jobs only because enormous company profits due to the huge success of the original, mostly Woz-designed Apple II allowed the company to hire some very talented engineers who were able to overcome many but not all of Steve Jobs’ obsessions — like no fans or cooling vents on the Apple III.

    But no problem. When the Apple III acted up from overheating, you could just lift the whole fool thing a foot or two in the air, and slam it drop it back onto your desktop — physically — so that the memory chips would reseat themselves after popping out due to the entire motherboard overheating.

    I mean, how elegant is that?

    But even today, Macs still run hot. Even today, Macs are still overpriced. Even today, suckers are still born every minute second.

  121. kA says:

    Our slow slide towards stupidity is obvious. Magical thinking has replaced critical thinking .Sound bites have eliminated the space for honest opposition and rebuttal .
    At corporate level, making a killing before the known fraud becomes known to everybody has inspired more and more pseudo science and business model.

    At the level of peasant like us, the jump to grab an opportunity is symptomatic of our powerlessness and vulnerability . We agree to media hype because we have lost the habit of questioning . Questioning allows critical thinking .

    We believe in lottery , believe in sports or Hollywood as the only path left to get richer and famous .

    We also divide ourselves along ideas but leave no room to realign or reposition. The same faith that makes a victim of fatal illness to seek Voodoo treatment or biting by snake because of the lack of effective treatment or because of inability to accept death make us vulnerable to scheming and vain promises .

  122. @Kratoklastes

    Good post! As Mark Steyn has put it, “The process is the punishment.”

  123. Avery says:
    @MarkinLA

    {Actually without Wozniak there never would have been a Jobs.}

    Quite true, but without Jobs there would be no (famous) Woz either.
    It is the eternal battle between marketing types and engineers: who is the more important.
    Engineers by nature want to design, create.
    Engineers by nature are introverts: prefer not to deal with people.
    Engineers feel uncomfortable exaggerating (lying?) about what they have designed.
    Marketing types have no problem blowing smoke to secure sales and customers.
    I am sure there are exceptions, but that’s generally the case (..from my own experience, having worked with both for many years).

    You no doubt know about Gary Kildall: he was a brilliant ComSci, and his CP/M was considered a superior OS to DOS. But Kildall was an engineer, not a marketer.
    Gates is not only a pretty smart guy, but a very good marketer: he marketed a lousy OS right, and the rest is history, as the saying goes.

    Sadly Kildall died (was killed) in obscurity, while Gates and Jobs are famous and billionaires, who have had an unquestioned impact on humanity.

    • Replies: @Fran Macadam
  124. Rob McX says:

    This will keep happening. There was a guy a hundred years ago who got millions from investors for his car that he claimed ran on water (even Henry Ford showed an interest). People think we’re more savvy nowadays, but we’re not, really. You just need to refine your pitch. A young white woman who appeared to be breaking into the male-dominated tech industry was just right. If she were black, it wouldn’t have worked. People would be wary of a black claiming to have made a major breakthrough in technology, even though of course they’d never admit it.

    • Replies: @Simply Simon
  125. @Negrolphin Pool

    I did not know that [/Johnny Carson].

    Thanks, that’s a weight off my mind.

  126. dkshaw says:
    @Anonymous

    War injuries complicated by medical malpractice.

  127. Sparkon says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Steve Sailer’s Takimag article (unfortunately commenting is gone from that site.

    As opposed to iSailer’s erratic, haphazard, and seemingly preferential moderation of comments to his articles at UR, which amounts to soft censorship.

    Even now, one of my recent comments to his McNamara article has been awaiting moderation for over 12 hours.

    Anyway, back on topic: neither is Holmes pretty, nor does she look smart.

  128. @Sparkon

    As opposed to iSailer’s erratic, haphazard, and seemingly preferential moderation of comments to his articles at UR, which amounts to soft censorship.

    Oh, you’ve noticed? LOL. #metoo

    3rd time El Jefe Sailer censored my comment, I quit reading Sailer forever and ever. Fucking poseur. A writer is either honest or dishonest — as soon as a dishonest condition is confirmed, you can no longer trust anything that writer produces.

  129. @Sparkon

    Sparkon, I too have had some comments “in moderation” for almost a whole day before which kept me out of the whole conversation. It did piss me off, but I’m pretty sure it’s not intentional on Steve’s part. I believe he is the one that moderates them, and this seems to be done differently from my comments under Buchanan / Fred Reed / Ron Paul / John Derbyshire and others. Those guys may just have a flag set to “screen out blatant profanity and spam, but let the rest all slide”.

    I believe Mr. Sailer has just missed some comments and caught up with them much later onregarding those 5% or so that take way too long. It’s probably the same with yours, Sparkon. Otherwise, comments appear on a schedule that is in synch with a late-schedule guy on California time.

    I don’t think the people who run this site (Mr. Unz in particular) want readers to know how it works completely, as if they wrote that, it would open the door for scammer/spammers and the like. I wonder if having a real email address makes the comments appear instantaneously (as fast as computers are, I mean).

    That’s my take on the comment-lag that you and I see. I hope that helps.

    • Replies: @Sparkon
  130. Sparkon says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Thanks for your comment. It was a momentary lapse of good judgment on my part to get involved in that discussion in the first place.

  131. prusmc says: • Website
    @annamaria

    Is this the Gen Mike Hayden of USAf and CIA?

  132. @Rob McX

    I vaguely remember the “run on water” scam. But there were also other scams involving gadgets that could be attached to the carburetor that would increase gas mileage significantly. One I recall produced an awful whistling noise. Yeah, my buddies and I fell for it, during WWII when gas was severely rationed to four gallons a week. Carburetors on cars are now passe, but still used on small engines where economy is not so critical.

  133. Anon[175] • Disclaimer says:
    @Vojkan

    Sociopaths are known for being slick, smooth talkers. They are extremely good at deceiving people. That’s part of the definition for being a sociopath. Holmes is definitely one of them.

    You need a course in Psychology 101.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201305/how-spot-sociopath

    • Replies: @Vojkan
  134. Vojkan says:
    @Anon

    Do you mean all politicians are psychopaths?

    Seriously, sociopath and psychopath are not synonymous. While a psychopath is necessarily a sociopath, a sociopath is not necessarily a psychopath. Maybe Holmes is indeed a sociopath. I cannot determine that based on only one interview. Her body language is not that of a psychopath.

  135. Joe862 says:

    Kind of makes you want to rethink rich guy worship. If guys this smart can be scammed this easily we need to figure out how they’re smart and how they aren’t.

  136. Rod1963 says:
    @Herbertt

    And chimps are vicious a** killers that will rip people and other chimps to death if provoked for some reason.

    In general when animals bare their teeth it isn’t for pleasantries, it either means you either pi**ed them off or they intend to eat you.

    Still I hate those fake forced smiles from many of my fellow Americans. It’s always given me bad vibes.

  137. Dr. Doom says:

    Affirmative Action Hero!

    Step 1) Born a “protected class”.
    Step 2) Government secured loans.
    Step 3) Bankruptcy blamed on Whites, especially males.

    The litigation and possible charges are simply due to not enough bankers willing to lose money.

    “Speaking as a black lesbian, I can assure you there is no violence implied by No Justice, No Peace.”
    Terry Gilliam.

    Seems legit.

  138. @Andrei Martyanov

    I learned early on that most expensive books got shorter and shorter chapters as the material covered became more difficult. Since the mystery of implementation was thus left as an exercise to the reader, it thus became a necessity to consult the applications manuals available for free from chip manufacturers to figure out how it all really worked. The academic approach is, well, academic. At least for those who buy those very expensive texts.

  139. @Avery

    Since DOS was a bootleg copy of Kildall’s CP/M, with the forward slash changed to a backslash to make it different, it was Kildall who changed the world. Kind of like Con Edison running on AC instead of Edison’s DC.

    Depositions in the case to squash Linux by Microsoft, brought by the right holders to Kildall’s intellectual property, revealed Gates throwing furniture around and shouting that he wanted Kildall… Killed.

    Propitially and coincidentally, he died not long after, having fallen down the stairs, alone at home.

    • Replies: @gmachine1729
  140. @Fran Macadam

    Heh, I had learned of this very recently: https://gmachine1729.com/2018/05/28/something-i-learned-today-about-microsoft/. I’m almost certain Gates did a lot of really dirty stuff behind the scenes, though of course once you’re powerful enough you can easily pull off a facade of charity, as Gates has done. Many if not most ordinary folk believe that he’s done so much good for the world with his philanthropy, which if you examine more closely was much to redeem his reputation damaged by his ruthless monopolistic acts in the 80s and 90s.

    In any case, on the actual topic of this article, the Holmes scandal really taints America’s reputation. Her family had strong ties with Washington, with Senators and prominent government people (not people who actually knew anything about biotechnology) on the board of Theranos.

    To generalize, I wonder if America mirrors Gates in many ways. A world monopoly, too powerful to fail, even if it’s mediocre or even catastrophic in many ways. People will buy it even if it’s objectively worse in many ways (as was Windows) for access to the network or, to frame it more negatively, fear of the real repercussion of being shut out. Microsoft have a lot of mediocrity and garbage, but it’s also rich and powerful enough that it can easily buy a lot of really smart plus technically top-notch people, who will easily sell out whatever ideals they used to have. LinkedIn and Github for instance.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
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