Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, and the Patenting of Vaporware

Elizabeth Holmes set the biotech investment world on its head when she announced that her company had developed a small machine capable of performing hundreds of blood tests on tiny blood samples at a greatly reduced cost. Her companyTheranos (a portmanteau of “therapy” and “diagnosis”), immediately began receiving investment capital. These investments eventually totaled over $700 million, skyrocketing the company’s valuation to over $9 billion. But it was all based on a lie. Ms. Holmes had no machine with these capabilities. Not only did such a machine not exist, but an expert in her own company admitted that producing a machine, in such a tiny form factor, with all of its claimed capabilities, was simply impossible. So how did Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos raise hundreds of millions of dollars based on technology that it did not, and would never, have? As detailed in the new HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, there…

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