The dropout and the inventor theranos’s uniquely queasy grift – vox gas examples


Modern grifters and con artists manifest a certain vampiric quality. The hipster grifter, fraudulent socialite Anna Delvey, the fake Saudi prince, Fyre Festival (and maybe, if you squint, even college admissions fraud) — they all have one thing in common: A sexy, alluring cast to the con that makes the feeding off the (metaphorical) blood of the conned even more seductive to those of us sitting on the outside, munching popcorn as our eyes widen.

So perhaps what makes the story of Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes so compulsively interesting is that it’s the rare double grift, subtext and text: Holmes, who promised that technology her company had supposedly developed would change the world of medical testing forever, fed the con through sucking the metaphorical blood of wealthy people’s bank accounts and through, well, actual blood. Even the poster for Alex Gibney gas variables pogil worksheet answer key’s upcoming HBO documentary about the fallen entrepreneur, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, boasts some ominously vampiric undertones.

Theranos turned heads with its signature invention — a blood testing machine about the size of a home breadmaker named the Edison, after Thomas and (perhaps in a stroke of dramatic irony) the many failures he endured en route to success. The Edison would have, by all accounts, radically shifted how we approached health care. The vials and vials of blood required to run medical tests would be reduced to just a “nanotainer” of blood, drawn from a prick on a fingertip. The nanotainer would be deposited into an Edison, and thorough analysis could be run inexpensively, quickly, and seamlessly. All at your local 4 main gases in the atmosphere Walgreen’s. Holmes with Bill Clinton in September 2015. JP Yim/Getty Images

The trouble, we now know, is that Theranos never developed the technology. Its own engineers and scientists admit that the machines were hopelessly ridden with errors and problems, but concerns about their shortcomings were met with derision from the company’s upper management. Theranos, and especially Holmes, resorted to all kinds of smoke and mirrors and subterfuge to create the illusion that it was working. But the only thing that was actually working was the con. For a while.

The story of the company grade 6 science electricity unit test’s downfall has been covered in detail since 2015, when news broke in the Wall Street Journal that all was not as it seemed at Theranos or with Holmes. Not only was the accuracy of the company’s tests questioned but Silicon Valley’s golden girl, who’d been feted by the wealthy and powerful and become an instant role model for women entrepreneurs, was being pushed off the very high pedestal on which people had been desperate to place her.

It was a wild enough story when it first broke. It got wilder as more details were uncovered, including the fact that Holmes had a long relationship with key investor and Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani that the two never disclosed to investors, or that among those investors were Betsy DeVos, Rupert Murdoch, and the Waltons, of Walmart. And more than three years later, small, weird details keep emerging. Amid all of the more stereotypically white-collar offenses reported in a recent Vanity Fair article about the scandal came the revelation that as Theranos neared its end, Holmes adopted a Siberian husky, named it Balto, and let it roam freely through the office, where it defecated in the corners. The collapse of Theranos has become a magnet for filmmakers and storytellers

With a story this juicy, multiple pop culture retellings were inevitable. Adam McKay (of Vice and The Big Short) is directing a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes, with a screenplay by Vanessa Taylor ( The Shape of Water). The project was a hot item, with bids from major Hollywood players like Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Amazon Studios in the mix before Legendary Pictures picked up the rights for a hefty $3 million.

Carreyrou’s name was so odious at Theranos while he was conducting o gastronomico his investigative reporting that Balwani reportedly led the staff in a rousing round of “Fuck you, Carreyrou!” soon after the journalist’s story was published. But it knocked down the house of cards and sparked a flood of interest, as well, eventually, as indictments for Holmes and Balwani. Elizabeth Holmes and her attorney arrive at the federal court house on January 14, 2019. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A story this fascinating can bear a lot of documentary-style retellings — not least because Holmes’s famously, uncannily, and apparently fake deep voice is so unnerving to actually static electricity examples hear. At the end of February, ABC Radio and ABC News Nightline concluded The Dropout, a seven-part investigative podcast about Holmes and the case. (Holmes dropped out of Stanford to start Theranos.) The series, from ABC senior business, technology, and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, combines interviews with key players and whistleblowers with audio of Holmes, in interviews and talks given at the height of her influence and from her depositions.

And just a few days later, on Monday, March 18, a film from documentarian Alex Gibney ( Going Clear, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the World) will air on HBO and start streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now. The Inventor: Out for electricity will not generally cause Blood in Silicon Valley, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, also covers essentially the same ground as The Dropout, revisiting some of the same footage and interviewing some of the same Theranos ex-employees and whistleblowers. The Inventor seems particularly aware of how bloody the story is

Gibney’s film in particular seems fascinated with the vampiric parts of the story. As Emily Yoshida noted in her Vulture review, The Inventor fixates on Holmes’s face, which appears in extreme close-ups not just in the movie but as a key part of its marketing. She is very pale, clad in her signature black turtleneck. The movie posters are even mostly rendered in grayscale, making her skin truly white against the blackness, red lips turned to a dark gray. Only two elements parts are rendered in color: Holmes’s icy blue eyes, described as unblinking in the documentary, and the nanotainer of red, red blood she holds between two fingers. Elizabeth Holmes in the poster for Alex Gibney’s new film The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, which airs on HBO on March 18. HBO

Grifters are a dime a dozen, and Silicon Valley hubris designed to draft off the wealthy is hardly news. (Remember Juicero?) But electricity schoolhouse rock I found listening to The Dropout and watching The Inventor surprisingly frustrating, and it took me a long time to pinpoint why. I think it’s because it’s difficult to outright condemn her story, or write off the whole Theranos enterprise as purely a con. If the company’s technology had worked, after all, it genuinely would have been a miracle, a literal lifesaver.

The story lacks some of the train wreck appeal of other grifter stories. As a vampire story, it’s not camp or comedy; it’s just horror. Some of the worst was averted once the story was uncovered; most of the people who lost out were wealthy investors, not people with cancer and terminal illnesses. But Holmes’s lies sucked dry more than those who believed in her. They trashed some hope that very sick people might someday face a better future. And that may be what’s most unforgivable.