I knew about Elizabeth Holmes back in 2014. She had just appeared on the cover on Forbes as the youngest self made billionaire. I was super proud of her and inspired as well. What made Elizabeth Holmes rich was the company she founded called Theranos. I’d also heard and read about the company about the same time, they supposedly developed a cool way to test blood within minutes.
This story piqued my interest for two main reasons. Back then, I’d been researching ways to combine my two passions and turn them into a lifelong career – Medicine and technology. I saw Theranos as a model company doing what I have always wanted to do – applying technology to medicine in order to improve the quality of lives. Theranos was labelled a Silicon Valley company and they were in Medicine. Eureka! I spent so much time reading every article about Holmes and her company and I became even more impressed as I read on.
Fast forward a couple years later and I now find myself fulfilling yet another passion and turning it into a career in management consulting – thinking up solutions and frameworks to help individuals and businesses. As you would imagine, my interest in Theranos waned as I got involved in the daily rigors of consulting. I didn’t keep in touch until some time in 2016 when I read an article saying Theranos had troubles with their technology and practice. I did not pay too much attention to it until 2018 when the story became fully blown. I still was never too invested, then came John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood. It was the best seller everywhere.
It became the second book I’d read in 2019 (the first I’d finish). What follows in this book is a breathtaking nonstop tale of how Elizabeth defrauded the whole world (including me) through Theranos. The book offers an insider account of how the company failed and the lies it told and kept telling to deceive investors and the public. You can find bits of the Theranos story online (or get the book too!) but one of the major lessons from this book is how the hunger for fame can destroy you if your conscience is unchecked.
Elizabeth Holmes became consumed by her quest to become a star, a billionaire, she didn’t care what she lost or who she stepped on so long as she achieved her goal. She now faces an FBI investigation and the prospect of up to a 20 year jail term. Power is very deceitful and blinding, this story is particularly pertinent within my country (Nigeria) as we hear tales every other day about how youths dabble into all sorts of online fraud and rituals just to make money. The insatiable quest to buy the next Benz and get the new iPhone has seen so many people get into all sorts of thing. You only need look at Elizabeth Holmes to see that ill gotten wealth can’t last forever, no matter how long you dance around, it will still catch up with you. It didn’t matter the amount of goodwill and magazine covers Elizabeth got, it eventually caught up with her, and it will with you too, if you continue.