The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley | SXSW ’19
When this doc opens with the question being posed to Theranos CEO – Elizabeth Homes, “Can you tell us a secret?” and she replies famous last words, “I don’t have many secrets.”
What if someone told you a needle poke in your arm would never have to occur again? As someone who is majorly needle phobic I would have turned cartwheels at that possibility. This is the promise that the Princess of Silicon Valley – Elizabeth Holmes made when her upstart Theranos hit the scene.
Holmes claimed hundreds of tests through one single drop of blood could be processed through a machine called The Edison. So, what happened? None of this was actually doable or remotely true.
Before that was discovered, Holmes brokered a multi-million dollar deal with pharmaceutical giant Walgreen, seduced political and military heavyweights to become board members and coerced $30 million dollars from her partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani all while running around the country doing a publicity tour for a product she was certain to be a fraud.
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is directed by Alex Gibney, the same person who began a conversation focused on the Church of Scientology with his Emmy winning doc Going Clear: Scientology & The Prison of Belief, also for HBO.
The most fascinating issues about the doc are the fact that Holmes never blinks and the unhealthy obsession of Thomas Edison and late Apple CEO Steve Jobs to the point of duplicating his signature black turtleneck to quoting Edison constantly.
At its height, Theranos was worth a reported 80 billion dollars with more than 800 employees. Now, the company is shut down, liquidated with Holmes and Malwani being indicted for fraud. Ironically, Thomas Edison himself owned more than 2000 patents and had issues proving that his lightbulb invention worked. He literally had to sell off other patents to buy himself some time to figure it out.
Holmes, literally would seek out new investors, when funds would run out trying to figure out what was wrong with The Edison and why it couldn’t process the blood tests as Holmes so arrogantly claimed through Theranos.
It was not lost on me that this woman had no female friends or business associates. All of her board members were very powerful middle-aged men like Henry Kissinger and George Schultz. Ironically it was Schultz’s grandson and employee of Threanos that instigated the take down of one of the youngest CEO’s in American history with one phone call. If Theranos had actually been able to back up its claims, the medical industry would have truly been revolutionized.
An extensive profile was featured on ABC’s 20/20 after it debuted at SXSW prior to The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley debuting on HBO on March 18th.
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is a fascinating and thought-provoking cautionary tale for the business sector. It proves that in such a technological age where Silicon Valley upstarts have thrived and shuddered there is always the desire to believe that the impossible can be made possible at any cost with little to no questions.