From the Slope of Hope: After a long trading week, for no particular reason on Friday afternoon I decided to take a look at the Theranos home page. This “smoldering wreckage” of a company (as Fortune eloquently put it) is based in my beloved Palo Alto, and I like to check in from time to time based on some morbid curiosity.
What struck me immediately was the sentence they put front and center on the home page. The geniuses at the firm decided it would be a great idea to slap these words on top of a photograph that also happened to have a lot of lines on it, yielding an appearance of – – how shall one say? – – pig shit.
Back in 1989, Jan Carlzon, the CEO of Scandinavia Airlines, wrote a book called Moments of Truth whose title comes from his observation that the smallest little details about a company’s products and services reveal “moments of truth” about the nature of the organization at its deepest level. I was reminded of this book when I looked at the home page, because for a company that only two years ago was valued at $9 billion, it sure seemed like a bad oversight. Would you trust your health to a company that can’t manage a simple web page?
I then plunged further, curious to see what else I could find. It soon became apparent that Theranos is really hung up on promoting its devotion to women. If a company was run by a man and wouldn’t shut up about its MEN doing this, and its MEN doing that, there would be lawsuits. In this case, however, it’s all cool……..
Of course, if you actually elect to hear from some of these empowered females and click the button on the page, you are treated to this:
Perhaps, you might think, this is a one-time glitch, and one link on the site just happens to be bad. Indeed, on your quest to explore women-ness at this beleaguered organization, you might also stumble across this……
………and, wanting to hear all about how the glass ceiling is being broken, and in particular having an interest in meeting Tiffany (whom we can assume, with at least some degree of certainty, is one of the aforementioned women and not some transgender employee), we again would be met with this:
It’s no shock, I suppose, because Theranos is rapidly burying as much information as it can about itself, since the lawsuits are beginning of pile up neck-deep from governments, investors, and customers. For instance, I wanted to check out the absolutely comic “Epiphany” video that they had made, which features Ms. Holmes rambling on in her deep baritone voice about how she’s going to save the world, and……….
Sigh. This is one private organization! Happily, one chap managed to preserve the video so we can all enjoy it, particularly since the company paid an Oscar-winning director to film the goddamned thing (I’m not making this up). Shield your eyes, Frank……
We can ditch the obsession with videos, however, and explore the site a bit more. It isn’t long until we encounter…………drum roll, please……….the Theranos Mission. Take a moment to drink this in:
To which the only response is a jaw left agape and eyes widened (but not as wide as Ms. Holmes demonstrates, as it might cause them to dangle from their orbital sockets). What in the name of God are these dorks talking about? This mission statement sounds like something appropriate from Google, not a medical device company.
In all seriousness, this is an incredible fall from grace. Holmes was the absolute darling of corporate America a couple of years ago. Cover stories galore touted the mildly-attractive 30 year old blonde woman who was worth something like four billion dollars and fancied herself some kind of dickless Steve Jobs.
Now, in 2016, she probably would rather be anyone else. She’s reportedly broke, facing breathtaking legal woes, and could well wind up in federal prison. But at least that glass ceiling is shattered. After all……..
If Bill Clinton can be a lying scumbag, so can Hillary Clinton………a woman!
If Ben Bernanke can be an cloistered academic who hasn’t got a shred of private enterprise experience and yet is the most powerful force in the world of business, burying the country trillions of dollars in debt, so can Janet Yellen………a woman!
And if Jeff Skilling can completely pull the wool over the eyes of investors, make himself very rich (for a while) and commit massive fraud, so can Elizabeth Holmes……….a woman!
Look, I’m all for equality, but the hypocrisy of getting worked up about someone for any office or position based on gender, race, or any other binary criteria is ridiculous considering the present political environment. And besides that, I don’t know why Theranos thinks it’s oh-so-crucial to fawn over women. Maybe some folks think women are yet another oppressed class that is utterly shunted aside by big, bad men, but the hard data suggests that, umm, things are actually already kind of equal in the professional world, thank you very much:
So, huzzah, be it boy and girl, he and she, we’ve leveled the playing field. Perhaps in the future investors might be so taken in by someone just because she looks so innocent.