Elizabeth Holmes is getting her money’s worth from her PR firm. This weekend, The NY Times ran a weepy piece about her that even concedes that the reporter got played:
I guess the editor ultimately also got rolled, because they ran thousands of words and flattering photographs about the “real” Elizabeth Holmes who is now apparently called “Liz.” More qualified people than I have commented about the identity politics of this laundering of a white mom.
In January 2022, when the jury convicted Holmes of fraud, I ran a piece about the flaws that the Holmes saga reveals about how technology is selected for commercialization. Specifically, that investors tend to back personality over substance:
Just as she captivated the media during her peak, the media can’t resist putting style over substance - even as Holmes prepares to serve a lengthy prison sentence for harming people by convincing herself and other influential and wealthy people that the laws of science could be circumvented in a magical machine that never could have existed. The investors (mostly older white men) believed that she could do the impossible, and the media followed. All the while, qualified people knew it wasn’t going to work, and then John Carreyrou blew the whole thing wide open. There’s no way an entrepreneur with a less extraverted and “force of nature” oeuvre would have got the same backing.
Now the NYT has drunk the same Kool-Aid as Henry Kissinger did, even with Holmes preparing for prison having done serious harm. At this rate, Hulu will sign Jennifer Aniston to play Holmes in the sequel to The Dropout.
I remember discussing Theranos with clinical pathology colleagues in 2014 and 2015 (before the WSJ stories broke), and we all uniformly agreed there was no way her technology could work as described. It was simply fiction, and a bare minimum of due diligence asking any content expert would have confirmed that. Outrageous to see people in the media get suckered by the Elizabeth Holmes PR charm offensive *again*! Until tech reporters can adopt a more distanced and critical stance, we're going to keep seeing fraudulent Silicon Valley start-up meltdowns that "nobody saw coming" (except folks with any amount of knowledge of the product)
Skinny white lady for the win.