Girlboss: How a 19-Year-Old in a Steve Jobs Turtleneck Snookered America’s Failed Ruling Class
January 16, 2022
Alongside all the hype and chatter about the January 6 anniversary, there was another worthy news story the first week of 2022. On Monday, January 3, a federal jury in California convicted Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes on three counts of wire fraud and one of conspiracy to defraud investors. Holmes, six years removed from being the richest self-made woman in the world, now faces as many as twenty years in prison, though she will likely receive less.
While it’s always good to see criminals receive their just desserts, there is another upbeat aspect to the Holmes saga. The conviction of Holmes isn’t just an indictment of her fraudulent business practices. It’s a profound and permanent humiliation for America’s entire incompetent, vacuous leadership caste.
Between 2003 and 2016, Theranos collected more than $700 million in venture capital funding based on its promise to develop revolutionary blood tests that could be done almost instantly, with just a single drop of blood, at a fraction of the price of existing tests. This was a promise of a bold, massive, out-of-nowhere technological leap in a mature industry. The founder Elizabeth Holmes’ business plan was comparable to a 20-year-old promising to upend the automobile market by inventing a flying car that gets 200 miles a gallon and can be sold for ten thousand dollars.
Countless wealthy, influential, and politically-connected people fell for her promises and were entirely snookered for years on end. Sunk costs create a certain psychological hold that a con can use to hook the mark. Sure enough, many of Holmes’ victims continued to defend her as late as 2018, even as she burned through their reputations and nearly a billion dollars of other people’s money.
A 2014 profile by The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta perfectly demonstrated how easily Holmes bamboozled a credulous media and elite eager to have their political biases confirmed. Apparently, there is no shortage of horny boomer men and feminist boomer women ready to fall for a strong, independent girlboss-extraordinaire-in-a-Steve Jobs-turtleneck who breaks all those pesky and inconvenient stereotypes about “women in tech.”
Holmes’ steamy affair with the company’s Indian president Ramesh Balwani (19 years her senior) may have been an open secret, but the New Yorker simply wrote that Holmes “doesn’t date” due to her single-minded focus on business.
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