Theranos Founder Wooed ‘Parallel Universe’ Believers.
Outside of Elizabeth Holmes’ orbit, her promises of a medical revolution reeked of quackery, according to opponents. Close advocates, ranging from a future Pentagon top to a lab scientist, had a lot of faith in the project.
At Holmes’ Silicon Valley fraud trial on Friday, Adam Rosendorff, a former laboratory head at Holmes’ now-defunct blood testing business Theranos, claimed, “I felt it was going to be the next Apple.”
As the third week of Holmes’ trial in a San Jose, California court came to a conclusion, jurors had already heard how Holmes’ presence and saleswomanship of a supernatural idea were too attractive to her believers.
Today, if convicted of defrauding investors with non-working equipment, Holmes faces decades in prison, but in 2003, at the age of 19, Holmes started Theranos with the promise of a bewildering range of analysis on just a few blood drops.
The idea of quick, precise tests resonated with Jim Mattis, who would serve as US defense secretary from 2017 to 2019, since they may save the lives of US troops fighting in the Middle East.
“I was frankly shocked by what was possible, based on what Miss Holmes said,” Mattis told the jury on Thursday, claiming that he met her after a 2011 lecture.
“What she was doing was pretty breathtaking,” he continued.
He placed $85,000 of his own money into the company and accepted her offer to join the board of directors.
The illustrious list of investors, which included Henry Kissinger and Rupert Murdoch, as well as the devotion to an unproven technology, baffled biotech experts.
Jenny Rooke, a biotech investor and founder of Genoa Ventures with a PhD in genetics, said, “What was extraordinary about watching this story was that it seemed to be playing out in this parallel universe where influential, successful people who didn’t have industry context were increasingly signing on.”
In a New York Times editorial post, Silicon Valley journalist Kara Swisher said, “I have been on the receiving end of a lot of… foolish exaggerations from entrepreneurs over the years, but Holmes seemed to take the mendacity a step farther.”
Of course, after a scathing 2015 series of articles in the Wall Street Journal by John Carreyrou, the entire company and its multibillion-dollar valuation would collapse.
Prior to that, Holmes dazzled audiences with her speeches, which Mattis described as “sharp, clear, and devoted.”
Wearing a black turtleneck sweater, she was also well-versed in Silicon Valley symbols. Brief News from Washington Newsday.