She may be diagnosed with nerves of steel, but is Holmes really up to the task? There’s a larger social issue here that cannot be ignored. It’s clear that as a time capsule, this case is an important one. Biotech was one of the fastest growing industries over the last few years, yet the undercover government investigation found a lot of things that didn’t add up to solid business or financial practices.
Since 2013, and for decades before, Wall Street firms had been developing new drugs, looking for a buyer, seeking FDA approval, and selling their patents for billions of dollars. In early 2011, Holmes founded an anti-aging startup called “Theranos” to bring the notion of a Silicon Valley-style makeover to what was once a Fortune 500 company. However, Holmes’ vision called for machines to retrieve one and a half grams of blood from users in one and a half minutes. Many were of the opinion that this was a ridiculous goal, yet Holmes made it clear that she was sticking to her guns.
There were over 2,500 employees on her team. The idea that Holmes would defy conventional wisdom and start over in the pharmaceutical business from scratch was…well, there was almost nothing to suggest that was possible.
Now, I don’t think there is any denial that this is a unique circumstance, but Holmes’ defense will go to great lengths to show that she was a true innovator with the vision to change the biotech industry. Her key witnesses will call her an engineer, a genius and someone who was working independently without any approval from boards or venture capital firms.
Yet, she did not get this far alone. Perhaps if this trial moved more quickly, we could get answers on the evidence, or perhaps she would be acquitted. Instead, this all-too-brief three-week process could just be a charade, leading to more subpoenas and more jury trials, and maybe even a guilty verdict or more hung juries.
Editor’s Note: After writing this column, John Kluge, CEO of John K. Kluge Investments, has been calling various newsrooms to share his stories. He has told stories about the Silicon Valley bubble burst going back years. Kluge’s theories and actual stories are now featured in a CNN Book Club interview with Chris Cuomo. Check it out by watching the video.