friday-rant
Medical Devices

Theranos and the great media circus is tiring

I have been following the Theranos debacle for a while now and getting a bit tired of seeing the battering Elizabeth Holmes is receiving for her blood-testing startup.

Holmes made some big claims that her technology could run dozens of tests just on a single blood sample. For a while everyone was awed and Holmes was immediately put up on a pedestal as the next female Steve Jobs. But an investigation by the Wall Street Journal questioned the reliability of her technology and the accuracy of the blood tests. Now Holmes, who was once revered by the media, has suddenly plummeted from such heights and her startup that was once valued at a crazy $9 billion is now facing criminal investigation for misleading investors.

Some will say that Holmes deserves all this and on the one hand they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Dealing with people’s lives is no laughing matter and Holmes should have been more careful. Being more open with the scientific community and getting the right medical experts on board could have served her a long way.

But the whole thing has just become one theatrical performance with Holmes in the crossfire. Investors are now saying “I told you so” with claims they knew about the red flags all along.

Then there is the troubled, once promising relationship gone bad with pharmacy chain Walgreens. Walgreens put its reputation on the line for Theranos but now has to deal with accusations that it’s infatuation with Holmes overshadowed its responsibility to question the actual technology behind the startup. Now Walgreens is bitter and stuck, wishing the whole thing never happened.

Meanwhile Holmes is trying to salvage her credibility. Holmes’ mistakes definitely cost her but she’s also been immensely let down by her advisors. The media nonsense hailing her as the next Steve Jobs hasn’t helped either. But that is often the problem – the media loves to put people with a great story up on a pedestal and then steps back to watch gleefully as they inevitably come crashing down. Holmes fit the bill perfectly. She’s smart, ambitious and has all the makings of the next big ‘disruptor’ so why not watch her crash and burn?

Ultimately Holmes is responsible for all the claims that she has made and will now will have to really convince people to take her seriously. But the sheer nonsense generated by all of this has not helped and I hope that she is able to bounce back and prove everyone wrong.

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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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