The wheels are coming off the cart at Theranos, the $9 billion startup founded by Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes when she was 19. Its proprietary blood testing technology is the subject of a scathing report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but that’s just the latest in a growing list of woes for the troubled unicorn.
First, the FDA declared the company’s nanotube container for collecting blood from a finger prick to be an unapproved medical device. Then, CMS found serious deficiencies that forced a shutdown of Theranos’ Northern California lab. And while the company’s deal with Safeway never got off the ground, Walgreens is reportedly looking for a way to get out of its agreement.
But the one thing that the secretive Silicon Valley startup has managed to avoid is peer-reviewed, independent testing that compares the results of its proprietary diagnostic testing to that of other labs like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. Last week, that changed, and the results were devastating.
Mount Sinai researchers showed that cholesterol results were an average of 9.3% lower than those conducted by reference labs – a bias that could yield a false diagnosis. And the 121-page CMS report revealed that the company’s proprietary Edison device yields unacceptably inaccurate and highly erratic results for a significant number of critical blood tests.
Why, at this point, should any of us be surprised? With all the hype over Theranos’ supposedly breakthrough technology, none of it appears to be working.
Not to be morbid, but I can see why the company’s chief scientist, Ian Gibbons, repeatedly told his wife Rochelle that “nothing was working” before taking his own life in 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, Gibbons bore witness to what the rest of us are only beginning to see now.
That was the year that Holmes made one of the biggest public splashes in startup history, garnering gushing front-page profiles across the media landscape, claiming that her company’s breakthrough technology could run hundreds of lab tests, virtually in real-time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional labs, from just a few drops of blood.
* The funny thing here is that looks-wise, Elizabeth Holmes is like a 6-7 depending on how dolled up she is. Yet she is Helen of Silicon Valley, the Face that Launched a Thousand Rounds of VC Financing.
Is “tech goggles” a phrase? Because it should be.
* Maybe her very strange, deep voice mesmerizes them and makes them lose all sense of reason.
* I always get a kick about the feminists who complain how veteran women faces in television journalism get pushed aside in favor of the fresh cute young hot numbers who always are ready to replace them. These feminists never notice that the old battle scarred men are never granted such an early entry to the summit of the profession thanks merely to their youthful beauty.* Of course every “disadvantage” that feminists perceive that women suffer is merely the flip-side of advantages that they enjoy.
Reminds me of those SJW feminists that Peggy Orenstein describes in her latest book who at the same time want to further the feminists SJW revolution and stake claim to more benefits and privileges for womankind while at the same time enjoying the enormous natural power they exert over men.
*Perhaps we should spend some time considering Brian Williams who climbed to the summit of the news world in spite of having dropped out of college after transferring 3+ times and accumulating fewer than 20 total credits. Perhaps his insecurity about real achievements made him invent and exaggerate his record?
* My old school buddy the sportscaster remarked back in the early 1990s that he had just lost out on a good job to a hot babe sportscaster with 10 years less experience and 1/10th his knowledge of sports. But, he remarked philosophically, I’ll still on TV in my fifties when she’s selling real estate.