In some ways Silicon Valley is similar to law. Many go into it hoping to strike it rich. Later realizing that only a few individuals accumulate such ostentatious wealth. And of those individuals that strike gold only select few are women.
In fact in an Above of the Law article “Meet The Richest Lawyers In America (2014)” all of them were men.
So when women achieve affluence they stand out. Elizabeth Holmes was one of them. In 2003, Holmes started Theranos. Theranos claimed that it could test blood by using only a few drops of blood, making needles and vials a relic of the past.
Holmes raised over $700 million from investors. At one point Theranos was valued at $9 billion, with Holmes being attributed a net worth of $4.5 billion.
However, in October 2015, critics of Theranos became vocal. The Wall Street Journal reported that Theranos had exaggerated the potential of its technology and medical experts questioned the science behind it. In a matter of months, the company’s valuation dropped billions of dollars.
Currently, the company is valued at around $800 million, about on par with the money invested in it. Holmes’ net worth is now valued at $0.
I hope for her sake and for the sake of medicine that the science behind her blood testing technology is sound. But, many doubt that it is.
Some people claim that the media was complicit in Theranos’s fall and its rise. In Silicon Valley, writers are granted access to new technologies. But if they ask unauthorized questions, they risk being banned from covering future releases. So the danger of being cut-off silences reporters. Keeping them in a constant state of lip service to new technologies. This lip service allows technology companies to grow bigger and bigger until one day they don’t. Making the fall that much harder. And that much more humiliating.