EElizabeth Holmes is she a black sheep of Silicon Valley or, on the contrary, the product of the excesses of an entrepreneurial culture which, under the guise of innovation, is ready for any manipulation to achieve its ends: fortune and glory ? A few days after the end of the resounding trial of the founder of Theranos, a start-up specializing in blood tests, the question arises all the more acutely since the court of San José (California), before which she appeared , found her guilty of defrauding investors. A decision rare enough to encourage the microcosm of entrepreneurs and those who finance them to show introspection and self-criticism.
It took fifteen years to realize that the nugget was in fact an empty shell. The false promise was based on a process capable of doing 200 blood tests from a single drop of blood. A lie that Elizabeth Holmes meticulously maintained with the complicity of the operational boss of the company, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who will be tried in turn in the coming weeks. Their ability to make bladders look like lanterns allowed them to raise several hundred million dollars from unwary investors and to value the company up to $ 9 billion (7.9 billion euros) in 2015. , just before the deception was revealed by the Wall Street Journal.
Since then, many are those who, within the small world of innovation, have taken good care to distance themselves from the fallen star. Tribunes and articles have multiplied to call not to mix tea towels and towels. The fact remains that, for fifteen years, nobody sounded the alarm bells on the questionable methods of Mr.me Holmes.
Importantly, before her downfall, Elizabeth Holmes used and abused the same tricks that others used before her in Silicon Valley to make it appear that they were about to “change the world”. Judge Edward Davila, in charge of the case, also questioned this culture of frenzied optimism, disconnected from reality, in which arrogance is encouraged and self-talk becomes a hard drug. In the absence of sophisticated technology, you have to convince with your ideas and personality, with the risk that at the end of the day, only wind remains. “It is common in Silicon Valley for its supporters to engage in this type of behavior”, he explained just before the opening of the trial in May 2021.
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