Daniel Chu
2019 RAE: Revista de Administração de Empresas  
a few years prove to be one of the biggest corporate frauds in recent American history? The rise and fall of Theranos, a biotechnology firm, and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, is the subject of this meticulous journalistic investigation by Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author, John Carreyrou. The company claimed to be able to perform hundreds of tests (cholesterol, cancer, infections, and even pregnancy) with only a few drops of blood, for a fraction of
more » ... he price and much faster than traditional laboratories. For this breakthrough, its founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, had been compared to Apple founder, Steve Jobs. The book is divided into two parts. The first three quarters (chapters 1 to 18) are narrated in third person and provide a retrospection of the facts prior to the author's first contact with the case. Carreyrou reports on how Holmes, still very young, was able to take full advantage of her family's high-level connections to attract her first investors, who were neither too keen on detail nor skeptical of her ideas. The author also reveals how Holmes was able to convince an impressive roll of other influential supporters based on the good name and reputation of these early investors. Gifted with high doses of charm, charisma, and astuteness, Holmes started out from the promise of a revolutionary technology potentially able to save millions of lives to building an inspiring narrative around her. Consequently, she took on the role of a prodigal girl (who, at age 19, dropped out of Stanford University's Chemical Engineering course to start her own business) and was a living symbol of progress, innovation, and female empowerment. In a tech universe filled with apps developed for saving on rent and urban transportation, her quixotic ambition echoed loudly. Within a short time, she was able to surround herself with prominent and influential people with stellar reputations, such as former US Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, who joined the company's board of directors. Catapulted to stardom due to all these factors, Holmes was able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital and sign million-dollar contracts. Surprisingly, she accomplished all of that without ever presenting any real evidence that her technology did indeed work. One of the contracts was signed with a large pharmacy chain, Walgreens, to offer these tests to the general public.
doi:10.1590/s0034-759020190108 fatcat:rmeachpyrbfwncaycpostwoja4