A Defense of Elizabeth Holmes

Vilified former Theranos CEO is a genuine 'visionary,' argues John Tamny
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2019 11:36 AM CDT
Updated Oct 19, 2019 3:00 PM CDT
A Defense of Elizabeth Holmes
In this Nov. 2, 2015, file photo, Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

She is perhaps the most vilified CEO—now former CEO—in the country. But in a lengthy analysis at RealClearMarkets, the site's editor stakes out a strong defense of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. "My take is that with time Holmes will be vindicated as a visionary whose main 'offense' was believing deeply in technology that would eventually help save many lives, and that still may," writes John Tamny. In fact, "the world needs more visionaries like Holmes," he adds. "And the world would be a much better place if Holmes were innovating, rather than having to defend herself." Holmes, of course, was once a celebrated young billionaire who promised to revolutionize health care with a bold promise—with a drop of a patient's blood, her company could diagnose illnesses and streamline care.

Then came reporting by the Wall Street Journal's John Carreyrou, who found that Theranos was not even close to making good on Holmes' promises. Tamny, though, takes issue with Carreyrou's book, Bad Blood, suggesting that Carreyrou doesn't understand the nature of entrepreneurship. He finds it odd, for example, that Carreyrou makes so much of the skepticism voiced by doctors. After all, "a lack of disdain for Holmes' vision would have been a likely sign that Holmes was in possession of a fairly pedestrian idea." He also takes a forgiving view of Theranos' secretive use of third-party equipment as a necessity, given the unexpected amount of publicity Theranos received. The company, as startups often do, needed time to fail and then get things right, he argues. Read the full piece, which includes a notable disclaimer: Tamny is friends with Holmes' parents. (More Elizabeth Holmes stories.)

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