All Said & Done, Elizabeth Holmes Did Do Some Good
In 2014, these were words I heard used to the describe Elizabeth Holmes.
In 2019, these are words I now hear to describe Elizabeth Holmes.
And in 2019, those words are correct. Elizabeth Holmes did defraud investors out of hundreds of millions. Elizabeth Holmes did hire a great team of people who now can’t apply for a job and have questions not asked. Holmes also from her behavior in how she dressed, talked and general mannerisms was just a liar. Her company Theranos will go down as the Bernie Madoff of Silicon Valley and her legacy is destined to be put in a jail cell for probably 10-20 years. She has been called the bad blood of Silicon Valley and that name will stick until the day she dies.
Silicon Valley is a place where this type of thing happens fairly often. Ubeam created by Meredith Perry was a young female entrepreneur who after college raised tens of millions for a wireless energy concept. That company is now dead as a person who would charge a phone while in a bathtub. Juicero raised 100m for a juicer that wasn’t actually a juicer. Clinkle was 35m raised for a company that never had a clear idea. Tezos was a crypto currency that raised half a billion in an ICO and do to lack of foundation, now sits on life support with the SEC having its question set. And above all, Theranos and Holmes sit at the number one for failure.
Looking at the future for Elizabeth Holmes, it’s not going to be a bright one. She will go to jail and she will be released when she’s in her 40s or 50s to what will probably be an unhappy life. She will never be a billionaire again, never have people idolize her again and when she’s released, the best she can hope for is to be remembered similar to a mobster who got out and now people think it’s cool to know. She will never have that epic past she had. An epic past of owning a company with just under 1,000 employees, working with global leaders such as George Schultz or James Mattis and being a face in healthcare. That’s all dead. However, in her past of fraud and deception, she actually did do some good for the world.
The good isn’t something to be that proud of in the grand scheme, but it’s important to bring up. The first thing to note is it wasn’t technology. Her tech was a complete fraud and if anything setback blood test technology due to this fear. It also wasn’t any action for women. The next Stanford dropout who is a woman to want to start a company will get the Holmes joke. And third, it isn’t going to be much good. These points are really the scraps to what she did. However, she did have some good and with any person going to jail, she deserves to sleep a little easier knowing three things were good. Diving in, here are the three.
Good Thing Number One-Healthcare Transparency
This is probably where Holmes stands out the best. With Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes, one problem they ran into was something people wouldn’t guess they have. People can’t just directly learn about their healthcare needs without a doctor as a middleman. For Theranos, they sought out to solve that.
Elizabeth Holmes when launching Theranos, she ran into the issue that in most states people can’t just get a blood test and examine their results. People have to go to a doctor and that raises prices excessively. The idea that a company can’t just offer these services to consumers is a terrible practice and denial of basic rights.
Holmes went to Arizona to lobby to change the law and did. Now millions of people in Arizona can control their medical information and not need a third party. It’s too bad there wasn’t a company that could do those test.
Good Thing Number Two-Healthcare Prices
Another big issue with healthcare is information. If a person ask what the prices are at a hospital, the hospital doesn’t really have an answer. It’s vague, not public and it’s an insurance bill that cost $100,000 three weeks later in the mail. With Elizabeth Holmes, she actually did work to change. With Theranos, she did put pressure on hospitals and spread an influence which did scare pharma companies, hospitals and other firms.
This did have an impact where Walgreens and CVS actually made innovation. These companies are moving away from being just pharmacies where half the revenue comes from candy bars and soda. They want to move towards things such as diagnosis, basic treatment and the vision of micro hospitals. If they can do this, healthcare in America will be a vastly cheaper thing.
Theranos started this. Let’s just hope them failing doesn’t set it back.
Good Thing Number Three-Undeniably Being Someone To Learn From
For doing my own company, I don’t think I ever go a day without thinking about how Elizabeth Holmes did it. The big business idea, the cleverly arranged board, the clear pitch skills and more. For every company looking to make it, there is this lesson in how to get names such as George Schultz, James Mattis and others game along with the value of those names.
With Holmes, she wasn’t the best businesswoman. Hell, she probably was the worst. However, her skills at fundraising and strategy are something people will learn from and build real companies.
For my final thoughts, I can’t say they are the most positive. Even writing this article, I thought I’d get more positive views on Holmes, but what I ended up with wasn’t quite that big. She did do some good, but her failures might have set those things back even more. Ultimately with her, the greatest value could just be that it is a lesson which will make VC’s think differently on future deals and make people more observant of fraud in medicine.
With the future of Elizabeth Holmes, I believe it is a future that does end with a jail cell and I believe that future will start in the next year. With that, I’m Succeed.com founder Charles Peralo and I’m ready to write the article talking about Holmes final verdict.