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Tags Elizabeth Holmes , fraud cases , Theranos

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Old 10th September 2021, 11:18 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
Also scratching my head.

Ripping off other rich people remains the express-lane for criminal prosecution in this country.
Please see my follow-up post, that is not what I meant to say. My fault for not making myself clear.

In my view they should both be charged with more than just fraud because this case is about more than that. I'm just not sure what they could be charged with under US law. Yeah they ripped off investors, but what are the consequences (or what should they be) for defrauding consumers? Several people made life changing decisions about their health based on the bogus results from these machines that Holmes and Bulwani knew did not work.

I don't really have a good answer to that.
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Old 11th September 2021, 10:48 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Lerxst View Post
Please see my follow-up post, that is not what I meant to say. My fault for not making myself clear.

In my view they should both be charged with more than just fraud because this case is about more than that. I'm just not sure what they could be charged with under US law. Yeah they ripped off investors, but what are the consequences (or what should they be) for defrauding consumers? Several people made life changing decisions about their health based on the bogus results from these machines that Holmes and Bulwani knew did not work.

I don't really have a good answer to that.

Some of those consumers will testify as witnesses.
Quote:
Government witnesses will include patients who were allegedly falsely diagnosed with prostate cancer and pregnancy. Attorneys for Holmes unsuccessfully tried to block their testimony. Former employees, including three lab directors, will also speak.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/comp...aud/ar-AAOeGfP

But the crime is still fraud, and she's been charged with multiple counts. I don't know what else she could be charged with in any individual case.
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Old 12th September 2021, 06:55 PM   #43
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I'm somewhat haunted by that crazy look in her eyes that I noticed toward the end of the documentary on her that I watched. I think she really lost it, and I'd be happy to see her get treatment rather than a jail term, or perhaps in addition to.
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Old 13th September 2021, 07:00 AM   #44
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There aren't any really successful treatments for psychopaths.
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Old 14th September 2021, 02:15 PM   #45
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It's a sign of how fall Holmes has fallen that pretty much only defense against the fraud charges is that "I was too big an idiot to do that".
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Old 14th September 2021, 03:36 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Holmes was the face of the company. She was promoting this lie before Bulwani came on board. It was her image that convinced people to invest.
She had Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, George Shultz, on the board and pitching Theranos to his rich friends and the US Military. It's just crazy.

Shultz' grandson went to work for Theranos and was the eventual whistleblower who started blowing down the house of cards.
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Old 14th September 2021, 05:58 PM   #47
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I think Holmes is a crook, pure and simple, but going for big names on your Board of Directors is SOP for any major start up company. Usually they don't have that much power. Main power they have is removing the CEO. But, yes, a lot of people should have known better .
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Old 14th September 2021, 08:49 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
She had Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, George Shultz, on the board and pitching Theranos to his rich friends and the US Military. It's just crazy.

Shultz' grandson went to work for Theranos and was the eventual whistleblower who started blowing down the house of cards.

Yes. Somehow she persuaded some powerful people to buy into the impossibility she was selling. Itís absolutely crazy how she could do that.

Itís also kinda crazy how so many people that worked there DID NOT speak outÖ thereís a lot of people there that had to know what was really going on.
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Old 14th September 2021, 09:05 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Yes. Somehow she persuaded some powerful people to buy into the impossibility she was selling. Itís absolutely crazy how she could do that.

Itís also kinda crazy how so many people that worked there DID NOT speak outÖ thereís a lot of people there that had to know what was really going on.
A. I suspect people the people on the Board simply did not really understand the high tech involved. Easy to fool them with some jargon and some nice presnetations.
BAs to the employees:Money Talks, No One walks.
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Old 15th September 2021, 01:17 PM   #50
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Lots of speculation about which of her many voices Holmes will use when she takes the stand.
I suspect she will come up with a "wounded kitten" type voice.
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Old 15th September 2021, 01:20 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Theranos just had the ambitious dream of restoring balance by vaporizing half the money in the universe.
Well take away the "er" in the name look at what you get....
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Old 15th September 2021, 01:45 PM   #52
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I also find her giving birth to a baby just a couple of months before her trial to be a bit too cute.
I think she, if convicted, is going to use her being a new mother in a plea for clemency. A sort of modern version of "Pleading her belly" .
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Old 15th September 2021, 01:46 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
A. I suspect people the people on the Board simply did not really understand the high tech involved. Easy to fool them with some jargon and some nice presnetations.
BAs to the employees:Money Talks, No One walks.
I keep circling back to this explanation and rejecting it. These are all supposedly intelligent, competent people. They've had successful careers. They've risen to the higher reaches of their field. George Schulz must have spent decades in Washington, listening to politicians and lobbyists and calibrating his Crap Meter. These are all people who must have had some experience asking hard questions and getting straight answers, before putting their money and their reputation at risk on a venture.

Somebody came to me, asking for permission to bank on my good name and spend my wealth on some new venture, my first thought would be, "sounds promising, but first I'll need to rule out the possibility of a scam or misunderstanding."

If I were truly concerned about missing out on a hugely profitable deal, and the entrepeneur refused to let me bring in an independent expert to evaluate their claims, I might consider something like this: Put me in touch with another investor I respect, who has invested in your business sight unseen. If they're willing to insure my investment on the strength of their faith in your honesty and ability, then I'm in. If not... then maybe I lose some respect for them.
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Old 15th September 2021, 01:53 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I keep circling back to this explanation and rejecting it. These are all supposedly intelligent, competent people. They've had successful careers. They've risen to the higher reaches of their field. George Schulz must have spent decades in Washington, listening to politicians and lobbyists and calibrating his Crap Meter. These are all people who must have had some experience asking hard questions and getting straight answers, before putting their money and their reputation at risk on a venture.

Somebody came to me, asking for permission to bank on my good name and spend my wealth on some new venture, my first thought would be, "sounds promising, but first I'll need to rule out the possibility of a scam or misunderstanding."

If I were truly concerned about missing out on a hugely profitable deal, and the entrepeneur refused to let me bring in an independent expert to evaluate their claims, I might consider something like this: Put me in touch with another investor I respect, who has invested in your business sight unseen. If they're willing to insure my investment on the strength of their faith in your honesty and ability, then I'm in. If not... then maybe I lose some respect for them.
I would humbly suggest that these rich people throwing money at silicon valley startups routinely have no idea what they are investing in, even in examples that aren't outright fraud. Interpersonal relationships probably play much more of a role than you might want in anything resembling a meritocracy.

These rich idiots getting fleeced appear to be suckers to the same FOMO as your coworker gambling away their 401k on the stock markets, they just have more money, know more powerful people, and have access to more elite options.
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Old 15th September 2021, 01:59 PM   #55
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I have had the opportunity to pitch angel investors, and I had no problem BS-ing them. This wasn't Silicon Valley, but the investors whom I pitched didn't know much. Bunch of secret-handshake frat boys from private schools that were richer than they were smart - they got the pitch because they were in some club with the owner in college. My reasonably slick presentation got us a couple rounds of funding. Of course, we made money and I am an honorable guy.
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Old 15th September 2021, 02:04 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I would humbly suggest that these rich people throwing money at silicon valley startups routinely have no idea what they are investing in, even in examples that aren't outright fraud. Interpersonal relationships probably play much more of a role than you might want in anything resembling a meritocracy.

These rich idiots getting fleeced appear to be suckers to the same FOMO as your coworker gambling away their 401k on the stock markets, they just have more money, know more powerful people, and have access to more elite options.
I guess? To be fair, I've been saying for a long time now that our power elites are all a lot more like Donald Trump than they'd like us to believe.

I'm also at an age where a lot of the people making important decisions about the world are younger than I am. More and more I find myself thinking, "it's taken me this long to figure it out, is it possible my life is in the hands of someone who hasn't figured it out yet?"
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Old 15th September 2021, 02:19 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I would humbly suggest that these rich people throwing money at silicon valley startups routinely have no idea what they are investing in, even in examples that aren't outright fraud. Interpersonal relationships probably play much more of a role than you might want in anything resembling a meritocracy.

These rich idiots getting fleeced appear to be suckers to the same FOMO as your coworker gambling away their 401k on the stock markets, they just have more money, know more powerful people, and have access to more elite options.
That seems to be the unique thing about this thing: It was treated as if it were a software product, a thing that could be improved upon huuuugly with code, enough to make a new product. Like Amazon did with mail order, like Netflix did (in that era) with DVD rental by mail.

But it wasn't, it was hardware based. No amount of genius coding could ever get over the hardware limitation, but it still kept being treated like a software company. The thing, the confidence game, didn't really fall apart until people stopped thinking of it as a software product.

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Old 15th September 2021, 02:31 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
That seems to be the unique thing about this thing: It was treated as if it were a software product, a thing that could be improved upon huuuugly with code, enough to make a new product. Like Amazon did with mail order, like Netflix did (in that era) with DVD rental by mail.

But it wasn't, it was hardware based. No amount of genius coding could ever get over the hardware limitation, but it still kept being treated like a software company. The thing, the confidence game, didn't really fall apart until people stopped thinking of it as a software product.
At the time, Silicon Valley was also growing as a center for biomedical ventures.
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Old 15th September 2021, 05:17 PM   #59
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I donít think investors are any smarter than anyone else. They are often investing in companies that do things they have no expertise in.

I think the Theranos debacle comes down to two things, really: One, there is no doubt that a lab machine that could run hundreds of tests on a drop or two of blood would revolutionize medical practice and economics. It would literally change the world. The problem is that such ambition is physically impossible -but itís not intuitively impossible. I can see investors investing in the promise of world-changing technology that they donít -and canít really hope to- understand.

Two, Holmes was charismatic and she was ruthless. She had no problem lying to people about the capabilities of her machine. She and Bulwani threatened employees into silence. And the financial press ate the whole thing up. For years.

There was no outward reason for investors to suspect anything. To all appearances, this was a company set on changing the world, lead by the female Steve Jobs. A lot of investors couldnít resist.
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Old 15th September 2021, 08:30 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I would humbly suggest that these rich people throwing money at silicon valley startups routinely have no idea what they are investing in, even in examples that aren't outright fraud. Interpersonal relationships probably play much more of a role than you might want in anything resembling a meritocracy.
.....
I can't find a link, but I've seen multiple reports that VCs who actually worked in the medical field passed on Theranos because it looked and smelled fishy. The people who kicked in big bucks, like Rupert Murdoch, swallowed the hype and the celebrity endorsements.
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Old 15th September 2021, 10:18 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I have had the opportunity to pitch angel investors, and I had no problem BS-ing them. This wasn't Silicon Valley, but the investors whom I pitched didn't know much. Bunch of secret-handshake frat boys from private schools that were richer than they were smart - they got the pitch because they were in some club with the owner in college. My reasonably slick presentation got us a couple rounds of funding. Of course, we made money and I am an honorable guy.
There is a thermal cycle study out there that I cleaned up the stats for, and set the final parameters for. I spent the entire time reminding everyone involved that I do not have a degree in statistics, nor even more than a basic statistics class and a bunch of armature investigation applying entirely to ballistics and aerospace interests. Reminding them that I wasn't even officially part of the lab team, being part of the Internal Quality Audit team (where I also did stat work outside my expertise). Reminding them that there were some huge assumptions at the core of the study.

It has, last I knew, survived four rounds of industry task group review without change.

This really drove home for me how little you can know and get by with in some what should be intense scrutiny, especially if you're eloquent enough to explain to people who also aren't experts the basic concepts. Just using the phrases 'direct empirical data' and 'inference from proxy data' was enough? Ok then...(Being able how to Google the use of the very powerful industry software does help a lot too.)
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Old 16th September 2021, 03:18 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I have had the opportunity to pitch angel investors, and I had no problem BS-ing them. This wasn't Silicon Valley, but the investors whom I pitched didn't know much. Bunch of secret-handshake frat boys from private schools that were richer than they were smart - they got the pitch because they were in some club with the owner in college. My reasonably slick presentation got us a couple rounds of funding. Of course, we made money and I am an honorable guy.
Like my experience in the UK. I was in my mid 20s and I'd never really seen the "old boys network" up and close. "Due diligence" was really "where shall we have lunch"?
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Old 16th September 2021, 03:55 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
I don’t think investors are any smarter than anyone else. They are often investing in companies that do things they have no expertise in.

I think the Theranos debacle comes down to two things, really: One, there is no doubt that a lab machine that could run hundreds of tests on a drop or two of blood would revolutionize medical practice and economics. It would literally change the world. The problem is that such ambition is physically impossible -but it’s not intuitively impossible. I can see investors investing in the promise of world-changing technology that they don’t -and can’t really hope to- understand.

Two, Holmes was charismatic and she was ruthless. She had no problem lying to people about the capabilities of her machine. She and Bulwani threatened employees into silence. And the financial press ate the whole thing up. For years.

There was no outward reason for investors to suspect anything. To all appearances, this was a company set on changing the world, lead by the female Steve Jobs. A lot of investors couldn’t resist.
This, but I think there is also an additional factor 2b: The story of the next Steve Jobs being a woman. I can't help but think of this as an additional factor shielding Theranos from criticism; whether the criticism was justified or not, it would give rise to a "So you think a woman can't found a disruptive multi-billion-dollar start-up?" -backlash.

The funny part is that this isn't that far from her "But the science is all so complicated I couldn't possibly understand it" -defense.
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Old 16th September 2021, 05:34 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Yes. Somehow she persuaded some powerful people to buy into the impossibility she was selling. Itís absolutely crazy how she could do that.

Itís also kinda crazy how so many people that worked there DID NOT speak outÖ thereís a lot of people there that had to know what was really going on.
Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
A. I suspect people the people on the Board simply did not really understand the high tech involved. Easy to fool them with some jargon and some nice presnetations.
BAs to the employees:Money Talks, No One walks.
I remember Brass Eye and the "heavy electricity" menace, and of course "cake". Not to forget the "Coalition to Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide"

People are generally stupid.
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Old 16th September 2021, 06:14 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I have had the opportunity to pitch angel investors, and I had no problem BS-ing them. This wasn't Silicon Valley, but the investors whom I pitched didn't know much. Bunch of secret-handshake frat boys from private schools that were richer than they were smart - they got the pitch because they were in some club with the owner in college. My reasonably slick presentation got us a couple rounds of funding. Of course, we made money and I am an honorable guy.
I think you can get pretty far in life if you have the right familial connections, mastered the "Ted Talk" pseudo-guru voice, and own a black turtle neck.
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Old 16th September 2021, 12:32 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Yes. Somehow she persuaded some powerful people to buy into the impossibility she was selling. It’s absolutely crazy how she could do that.

It’s also kinda crazy how so many people that worked there DID NOT speak out… there’s a lot of people there that had to know what was really going on.

What appears to have happened is that once she got a couple big names involved, the others relied on them without conducting their own due diligence. "I dunno know anything about this, but Henry Kissinger must know what he's doing!" Etc. It was really a kind of affinity scam, the affinity being not ethnicity or religion but celebrity.

Theranos imposed tough non-closure agreements on its employees. Some lab tech isn't gonna speak out if they can get sued for a zillion dollars.

Quote:
Carreyrou said the company’s culture of extreme secrecy and swift retaliation against anyone who went against the grain set the stage for its eventual failure.

“There was sort of an Omertŗ in that from the early stages of the company — and it got worse and worse — there was really unethical behavior and employees who would try to raise questions were either fired, or marginalized, or left of their own volition,” Carreyrou said.

Many other employees didn’t blow the whistle to regulators, the media, or the board of directors, Carreyrou said, because Holmes forced them to sign “airtight” non-disclosure agreements and aggressively pursued lawsuits against ex-employees.
https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-...ranos-downfall

Yet some did speak to the WSJ reporter who broke the story.
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Old 16th September 2021, 04:24 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Well take away the "er" in the name look at what you get....

My gosh, you're right!

You know, that might make an amusing joke, as long as no one came along and explained it.
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Old 17th September 2021, 07:38 AM   #68
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In the category of "Bad Takes" the NYT published an opinion piece that holding her responsible is sexism. Other CEOs have misbehaved, and have not been prosecuted, so maybe she should walk?

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/o...al-sexism.html
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Old 17th September 2021, 08:43 AM   #69
Chris_Halkides
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It may not be either-or

Originally Posted by Carrot Flower King View Post
From this - https://www.theguardian.com/technolo...-begins-latest - report we have the following gem: "Legal experts say beyond the alleged abuse defense, it appears Holmes will argue she did not fully understand the complex science behind the devices and believed they worked."

OK, we have someone who was an engineering student at Stanford, which I believe is highly regarded by US-ians, who was told by the dean of the medical school of said university that what she was suggesting would not work...Are we actually required to believe that the American education system is so poor that someone accepted on to an engineering course at Stanford has such a poor understanding of basic biology and chemistry that they think this nonsense works, while still being so convinced of their own intellectual superiority that they ignore the dean of medicine?

Or have we just got a straight up psychopathic con artist? Who is still trying a version of the con?
Yes, Stanford is highly regarded, but she dropped out at 19, as a sophomore. She may not know much, but she may be a sociopath, anyway.
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Old 17th September 2021, 08:50 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by Leftus View Post
In the category of "Bad Takes" the NYT published an opinion piece that holding her responsible is sexism. Other CEOs have misbehaved, and have not been prosecuted, so maybe she should walk?

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/o...al-sexism.html
I don't think it's a great article as the author mixes in entirely different forms of possibly criminal activity from male CEOs, however I don't think your post is an accurate summary of the article's point of view.
I took it as more:- ''A male CEO in her position might not have bean prosecuted, maybe more CEOs should be."
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Old 17th September 2021, 01:37 PM   #71
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Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Criminal Fraud Charge Update

John Carryrou makes kinda the same point an important distinction in his new podcast. Thereís no doubt that deception is a part of the way things are done in Silicon Valley. ďFake it Ďtil you make it,Ē is the mantra. Larry Ellison is famous for this; he released some of Oracleís software as ďVersion 2.0Ē to make it look more developed. Vaporware is a thing. Beta testing is a thing. Companies release a piece of software that isnít fully formed and then keep pushing updates until it gets there.

Carryrou, though, is careful to point out the distinction between networking software or word processors and medical testing equipment. Medical devices require some certainty that they do what they say they can do. You canít release a device thatís inaccurate and then fix it in the next version; itís got to be validated and good to go.

He also points out that for all the ďfake itĒ vibe in SV, when an engineer says something canít be done, CEOs and other visionaries, at least the rational ones, are able to accept that and pivot to ďok, what can we do?ĒHolmes could not do that and she took that ďfake itĒ ethic too far in an industry that does not accept it.

ETA: Reworded to better reflect the point Iím trying to make.
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Old 17th September 2021, 05:26 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
I donít think investors are any smarter than anyone else. They are often investing in companies that do things they have no expertise in.

I think the Theranos debacle comes down to two things, really: One, there is no doubt that a lab machine that could run hundreds of tests on a drop or two of blood would revolutionize medical practice and economics. It would literally change the world. The problem is that such ambition is physically impossible -but itís not intuitively impossible. I can see investors investing in the promise of world-changing technology that they donít -and canít really hope to- understand.

Two, Holmes was charismatic and she was ruthless. She had no problem lying to people about the capabilities of her machine. She and Bulwani threatened employees into silence. And the financial press ate the whole thing up. For years.

There was no outward reason for investors to suspect anything. To all appearances, this was a company set on changing the world, lead by the female Steve Jobs. A lot of investors couldnít resist.
I don't know.
About the extent of my knowledge here is a single thunderf00t "Busted" vid many moons ago and while I barely recall the details, my entire impression is... "that's friggin' STUPID. You can't do that with a silly micro injector dermal patch."
And I'm damn sure not smarter than some rich investors. Right?

RIGHT?

Christ .. this is "Gates 'chipped' the vaccine" levels of stupid.
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Old 17th September 2021, 10:54 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by crescent
That seems to be the unique thing about this thing: It was treated as if it were a software product, a thing that could be improved upon huuuugly with code, enough to make a new product...

But it wasn't, it was hardware based. No amount of genius coding could ever get over the hardware limitation,
But it wasn't unique. I have seen plenty of examples of just that - thinking hardware deficiencies can be overcome with software - and a few that even worked.

Originally Posted by carlitos
I have had the opportunity to pitch angel investors, and I had no problem BS-ing them.... My reasonably slick presentation got us a couple rounds of funding. Of course, we made money and I am an honorable guy.
Being honorable doesn't guarantee success. What if in the end you couldn't deliver? I say you already lost your honor when you BS-ed, and the good result was just luck (because if you knew it was good you wouldn't have needed to BS).

Originally Posted by Jim_MDP View Post
I don't know.
About the extent of my knowledge here is a single thunderf00t "Busted" vid many moons ago and while I barely recall the details, my entire impression is... "that's friggin' STUPID. You can't do that with a silly micro injector dermal patch."
That's right, you don't know. Your impressions are formed far more by the way things are presented to you than you realize. Watch a video 'debunking' something that already seems implausible to you, and it doesn't take much to convince you it's a fraud (even when it isn't). Unless you have intimate knowledge and understanding of the science and technology involved you are at the mercy of whoever is trying to persuade you one way or the other. You could even be the head of the corporation developing it and be BS-ed one way or the other.

Quote:
And I'm damn sure not smarter than some rich investors. Right?
Being smart isn't the issue. Some rich investor probably is smarter than you at investing in new technologies. That person knows that their lack of 'due diligence' will sometimes lead to a bad investment (even if the product itself is fine). They expect a certain percentage to be bad, and probably don't care what the consequences of failure are for employees and customers etc. Some rich investors have no problem throwing millions at stuff that is no good, because the few that turn out OK are worth it and they can't be bothered using a more moral method of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

So at its core the issue here is whether you think capitalism should be allowed to operate unfettered, or whether there should be some kind of oversight to prevent scandals like this. Rich investors would rather you keep out of it and let them take the risks. If someone gets harmed by it they can always sue!
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