The SEC charges Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes with fraud. Holmes was once the darling of Silicon Valley but now a weight that could hold other women back.
Holmes Sets Back Women In Tech
Something really has to get me going for me to post something. Most of the time it’s driven by joy, excitement or curiosity but this time it’s anger. Yes anger. I am angry at what Theranos did. When the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) throws out terms like ‘fraud’ and phrases like ‘hosting misleading technology demonstrations’, it’s never a good thing. Despite the lying and, frankly, being a charlatan, Holmes set back women in tech, an industry that already has too few women in leadership positions.
Here is a section of the complaint:
They deceived investors by, among other things, making false
and misleading statements to the media, hosting misleading technology demonstrations, and
overstating the extent of Theranos’ relationships with commercial partners and government
entities, to whom they had also made misrepresentations.
Bottom line, Holmes and Theranos lied and in the process raised (or swindled) some $700 million from investors.
At a time when honest women founders received just 2% of the venture capital in 2017, this is a smack in the face. It hurts others who are honest and hard working. The reason? Holmes. Holmes, not Theranos, was beloved. Every time you saw or read something about Theranos, it wasn’t about the company’s technology, it was about her and how impressive she was. A New Yorker article back in 2014 said, “Board members are clearly charmed by Holmes.” Those board members included a former Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, CEO’s and a like. She and her partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani convinced them and every one else of something that was not true.
In the era or #MeToo and President Trump, the truth is more important than ever. It has to rear it’s head and be brought to the forefront. On the one hand I am glad that the federal government uncovered fraud, on the other I am sickened that this went as far as it did. Holmes and Theranos had a good idea and they, presumably, worked hard at it but it never lived up to expectations. At which point they should have come clean but they chose not to. They, and their board, continued to facilitate a lie and that is unacceptable. While some believe that there is no harm in the ‘fake it till you make it philosophy’, I believe there is harm. Truth and transparency will always work better and more than likely keep the SEC and IRS from knocking at your door.