Monday night saw the HBO debut of The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, the film from award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney that premiered at Sundance earlier this year about the health care startup Theranos, which claimed to have plans for a miracle blood test that could be performed using only trace amounts of blood samples. Instead, the company turned out to be a massive fraud that cheated investors out of billions and billions of dollars.
At the center of this maelstrom was by then-19-year-old entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford in 2004 and used her tuition money to fund Theranos. By adapting a false persona based on Apple founder Steve Jobs, often dressing in black turtlenecks and giving her voice a deep, gravely affect, Holmes pulled the wool over the eyes of rich, powerful men such as Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, Henry Kissinger, and Larry Ellison.
Although Holmes, (along with her business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani) seemingly did have good intentions, the technology simply was not there and by taking their product to the market too soon they risked endangering real lives. Likewise, the entangled web of lives resulted in the company’s chief scientist, Ian Gibbons, to eventually commit suicide.
Yet, the story of how one young woman was able to dupe some of the biggest players in Silicon Valley left people gobsmacked. As such many took to Twitter to crack jokes and express disbelief with the whole thing.
Many mocked Holmes’ bizarre, fake voice:
And others were just fascinated by venture capital investor Tim Draper’s Bitcoin tie:
Holmes and Balwani currently face up to 20 years in prison on wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Her story will be portrayed in a big-screen drama by Adam McKay starring Jennifer Lawrence, with a yet to be announced premiere date.