Theranos: The Cards Fall

With recent news of Theranos voiding test results, and other revelations, there is now a definite possibility Theranos has been mortally wounded and that my earlier optimism may have been misplaced. But now even accusations of ‘fraud’ are being thrown around, and I think that’s where the line needs to be drawn.

From zr0h3dge:

And Seeking Alpha, or as some call Seeking Losses:

What Investors Can Learn From The Theranos Fraud

Hmmm..I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure intent to defraud (bad faith) can only be proven in a criminal court, not in an online opinion piece.

Mistakes and failures are an unavoidable part of capitalism, and is failure in itself is not proof of fraud. Fraud involves a deliberate, malicious intent to deceive investors, customers, and other entities. Attributing mistakes and misfortune to fraud can have consequences such as dissuading capitalism, for fear of being libeled if things go wrong. The left does not understand this.

The zr0h3dge one is even worse because it’s apparent ‘Tyler Durden’, who in playing the holiness card has some skeletons of his own in his closet, doesn’t even know what Theranos does:

In the process of commiting fraud and building up her valuation, Holmes repeatedly gambled with people’s lives, sending them clearly wrong results. As a result some patients have received erroneous results that might have thrown off health decisions made with their doctors, the WSJ reports. All this is needed is one death and there is a criminal case.

In other words, Theranos may have put as many as 890,000 lives per year in jeopardy with its fake technology.

The good news, this is now officially game over for if not Elizabeth Holmes, then certainly her company:

Talk about hyperbole. Theranos only offered basic blood panels and tests for Herpes Simplex 1. Theranos tests were never intended or marketed for life or death situations. The FDA does regulate, for example, the accuracy of glucose meters, but Theranos never offered such tests. Someone whose life hinges on test results would not use Theranos; they would go to a hospital or use FDA-cleared test kits. It would be very difficult to prove in a criminal court that Theranos test results endangered lives. More likely it would go to a civil court.

From Wired:

The bigger threat comes from consumers. Many people probably made medical decisions based on those two years of voided tests. Or perhaps they wrongfully decided to forgo medical treatment for a misdiagnosed condition. “If Theranos negligently did blood tests, then someone has a right to sue,” says Davidoff-Soloman. “And it looks like it might be a good case.” But so far, he says he has not seen any examples where a person has popped up and said they were adversely affected by the results from a Theranos test. So again, wait and see.

Also voiding test results not not prove fraud or that the test results are egregiously wrong, as no blood test is 100% accurate. If Theranos was promoting these tests to symptomatic people of a possible life-threatening condition, then perhaps there is a case if Theranos was egregiously inflating the accuracy of these tests. Like if someone was extremely fatigued, had petechiae, and then took a WBC Theranos test that came back normal, only to be later diagnosed with Leukemia. But in such a circumstances, most people would go to the emergency room or primary care physician, who would order tests using conventional technology.


…and outsourcing 94% to companies whose products actually worked and many of whom likely had a far lower valuation than the one at which a bunch of idiot billionaires “valued” Holmes’ worthless company.

Hmm yet those ‘idiots’ are billionaires and you’re not. Venture capitalists understand there is a non-zero risk that that their investment may, due to unforeseen circumstances, become worthless. The most spectacular implosion I can recall is Myspace, which went from being worth $5-10 billion in the Spring of 2007 to being nearly worthless by early 2009. That’s the risk associated with venture capitalism.

I mean, I guess there is a possibility of fraud, but imho it’s still too early to know.