The Dropout, a six-part series from ABC Radio, explores one of the scandals of the decade in the rise of Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos.
The company sought to revolutionise blood tests by requiring only a finger pinprick and a tiny amount of blood. It was soon raising hundreds of millions of dollars from various sources and Holmes had a net worth of $4.5bn.
Unfortunately for her, major questions were soon raised about the claims Theranos was making for its products and, after a spectacular fall, the company spiralled towards bankruptcy, and finally ceasing trading last year.
This podcast posits:
Holmes is set to go on trial in federal court next year and faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of defrauding investors, doctors and patients
Rebecca Jarvis, a seasoned journalist, takes us through the podcast’s three-year investigation. We hear how Holmes was obsessed by money from a young age. Asked by a relative what she wanted to be when she grew up, Holmes says she wanted to be a billionaire.
The title of the podcast comes from Holmes dropping out of Stanford University to start a company — just like Steve Jobs, whom she channels by adopting his black turtleneck, a deeper voice (“It sounded like she was a man or a robot or both, a man-robot”), and hiring Apple personnel.
It is fascinating to listen to how Theranos’s spin sucked people in, even when the technology just didn’t work.
Indeed, it put patients’ lives at risk — one cancer survivor feared a recurrence after using the Theranos test.
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