Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos
Theranos never became a publicly traded company, and now it probably never will, but Elizabeth Holmes is just so remarkable, so impressive, that I had to give her a mention. Holmes had an idea to create a “lab on a chip” that would speed blood analysis and aid in rapid medical diagnoses. On the basis of that idea, an obsession with secrecy, and little else, Holmes was able to con so many investors that at its peak, Theranos was worth $9 billion. There was a sort of brilliance to the scam, in that once the company was past a certain size, few in financial industry thought to check to see if the company actually had the technology it said it did, thinking that other people had already done so.
If she had cashed out back in 2015, she might have gotten away with it, but Homes was either taken in by her own lies, or just colossally greedy, and she kept pushing. Even as questions arose about problems with the company’s technology (no one initially thought it was a fake), Holmes continued to bring in more investors, and even tried to sell it to the US Army for use on American troops in Afghanistan. As to that last one, one can only scratch one’s head. It’s as if she wanted to make sure no one in the world would be on her side when it all came tumbling down.
And tumble it has. Elizabeth Holmes, once worth $4 billion, no reportedly has a net worth of $0. It also appears that the SEC and the FBI are rapidly closing in. This may be that one case in 100 where corporate fraud meets with real justice.