How did the ex-CEO, now facing criminal charges, find fame and fortune? By aping the persona of a ‘tech genius’
Elizabeth Holmes did not change the world, as she once promised, but she certainly captured its attention. The story of the founder of the now defunct blood-testing company Theranos is everywhere. There is a bestselling book, a popular podcast and a new documentary, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, directed by the Oscar winner Alex Gibney, which premiered in the US on Monday.
Why are we so obsessed with Holmes? Elementary, my dear reader: she is a mesmerisingly modern morality tale. A photogenic 19-year-old Stanford dropout starts a revolutionary blood-testing company, which police are now investigating as a possible multibillion-dollar scam. Powerful men such as Henry Kissinger give her their backing. Holmes is named the US’s youngest self-made female billionaire before the authorities come knocking and a criminal case is mounted. If you had pitched the story to Hollywood, they would have said it was far-fetched.