How Theranos’ CEO Holmes influenced a Forbes reporter
Matthew Herper of Forbes writes about how he tried to cover the now-disgraced blood testing company Theranos and was influenced by CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
Herper writes, “Although I became increasingly skeptical, there was no doubt Holmes spun me–a little, but enough. I wrote one story talking to two Theranos partners, and it contained some skeptical reporting. But she managed, in a rushed interview that left me little time to write, to recast the way I thought about the story, and I wrote about those partners’ confidence that her critics were wrong instead of the many red flags they raised. (One group had done no due diligence on Theranos machines!)
“I interviewed Holmes onstage at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in October 2015. My plan was to talk to her enough, there and at a promised meeting that never happened, to write a skeptical Theranos profile. Onstage, I asked a lot of the right questions: Why was Holmes so paranoid that big lab companies were out to get her? How could she justify Theranos’ insane valuation? When would we see data about whether her technology actually worked?
“But I exited that interview briefly fantasizing about what it would be like to work at Theranos, something I’ve never done after interviewing a biotech CEO. Maybe it was something about Holmes. Maybe it was the crowd at the event, which adored her. The feeling passed quickly, and I began thinking again about how to report on her claims. A week later, as I was getting ready to get going, Carreyrou’s first article puncturing the Theranos myth was published.”
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