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posted by martyb on Thursday March 15 2018, @05:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the blood-of-Jobs dept.

The black turtleneck-wearing founder of Theranos has been accused of swindling investors out of $700 million for blood-testing technology that amounted to smoke and mirrors. However, Elizabeth Holmes will only have to pay a $500,000 fine and surrender millions of worthless shares:

The Blood Unicorn Theranos Was Just a Fairy Tale

[...] Securities and Exchange Commission today brought fraud charges against Holmes, Theranos and its former president, Sunny Balwani, and its complaint alleges pretty strongly that the investors were just as bamboozled as everybody else. In fact, Theranos made direct use of its positive press to raise money: It "sent investors a binder of background materials," which included "articles and profiles about Theranos, including the 2013 and 2014 articles from The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Fortune that were written after Holmes provided them with interviews" and that included her misleading claims about the state of Theranos's technology. She also repeated those claims to investors directly: "For instance, Holmes and Balwani told one investor that Theranos' proprietary analyzer could process over 1,000 Current Procedural Terminology ('CPT') codes and that Theranos had developed a technological solution for an additional 300 CPT codes," even though "Theranos' analyzers never performed comprehensive testing or processed 1,000 CPT codes in its clinical lab," and in fact never processed more than 12 tests on its TSPU. And Theranos would even do a little pantomime blood-draw demonstration directly on the investors:

This initial meeting was often followed by a purported demonstration of Theranos' proprietary analyzers, the TSPU, and the miniLab. In several instances, potential investors would be taken by Holmes and Balwani to a different room to view Theranos' desktop computer-like analyzers. A phlebotomist would arrive to draw their blood through fingerstick, using a nanotainer, a Theranos-developed collection device. Then the sample was either inserted into the TSPU or taken away for processing. Based on what they saw, potential investors believed that Theranos had tested their blood on either an earlier-generation TSPU or the miniLab. As Holmes knew, or was reckless in not knowing, however, Theranos often actually tested their blood on third-party analyzers, because Theranos could not conduct all of the tests it offered prospective investors on its proprietary analyzers.

Also at The New York Times, TechCrunch, and Time.

Previously: Theranos Introduces New Product to Distract from Scandal
Theranos Lays Off 340, Closes Labs and "Wellness Centers"
Theranos Given Indirect Lifeline From Softbank

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by FatPhil on Thursday March 15 2018, @02:07PM (3 children)

    by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {}> on Thursday March 15 2018, @02:07PM (#652941) Homepage
    You rogue! Not propagating the group-think.

    I didn't realise how lateral (good term, thanks!) it was until literally weeks ago. There's a local company I believe in, it's doing well, and it wants (needs - they're turning down orders) to expand. So my partner and I took part in a convertible loan funding round. Yay - the new building's being built, kit will be installed, more workers will make more stuff, and hopefully there's a pot of gold at the end for everybody involved.

    At about the same time, a couple of the founders (and an early work-for-low-wage-but-muchos-equity guy) decided that they wanted to liberate some folding beer tokens, so I also bought in at the equity level. Erm, I guess when they pay divvies, I'll get my divvy. Erm, yup, that's about it.

    The former is *investing*, the latter is just buying your way into participating with what's already happening, but not changing the status quo.

    The two just *feel* so different to me. The former, the loan, excites me more, I feel more involved, as my money is going towards walls and fixtures, and eventually workers, and finally products (I'm trying to muscling my way into a couple of advisory positions too). The latter, equity, provokes no reaction from me at all apart from the rather dull internal dialogue "well, if we're assuming that we would convert the loan to equity at maturation anyway, then I guess that means we want the equity, and here's an opportunity - OK, I guess so". And of course the equity is the higher risk investment - if things go tits up, the loan will be repayed, but the shares will be toilet paper - so theoretically should be accompanied by more adrenalin. But no.

    Not sure where I was going with this, apart from just to say "yes, I agree, and I know I agree because I *feel* it".

    Shares are little more than "trading sardines" - google it if you don't know the term.
    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
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  • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Thursday March 15 2018, @02:46PM (2 children)

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Thursday March 15 2018, @02:46PM (#652950) Journal

    The difference you're talking about here is the difference between entrepreneurial capitalism and its evil parasitic twin, stakeholder capitalism, which IMO was never intended to be part of the system.

    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15 2018, @09:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15 2018, @09:45PM (#653124)

      You didn't even need the "capitalism" part of that.
      The (Socialist) Mondragon worker-owned cooperative has been an entrepreneurial endeavor since it started in 1956 with 6 worker-owners.
      (They are currently in 40 countries on 5 continents with over 100,000 worker owners.)

      -- OriginalOwner_ []

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Thursday March 15 2018, @10:41PM

      by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {}> on Thursday March 15 2018, @10:41PM (#653147) Homepage
      Not just parasitic, but out in stock-exchange-land, it also suffers from things like the wasting disease of orporate buy-backs (well, it keeps the stock price high, so it must be a good thing, right? Shut up about P/E ratios!!!!)
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves