Articles to Read/Video to Watch
- 1. (Video) The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley – Official Trailer (HBO, 2019)
- 2. Elizabeth Holmes surrounded Theranos with powerful people (CNN, 2018)
- 3. (Video) Theranos, Whistleblowing and speaking Truth to Power | Erika Cheung (Ted Talk) – Watch until 13:00 min. (Ted Talk, 2020)
- 4. Theranos Whistleblower Shook the Company—and His Family (WSJ, July 2020)
- 5. (Video) Dice Experiment (Dan Ariely)
“Theranos’ star was shining bright going into 2015. The blood-testing startup had racked up a $9 billion valuation with its big vision to test for a number of conditions using a small sample of blood, and its CEO Elizabeth Holmes was featured on the covers of business magazines and lists of top executives. But then questions started being raised about how the company’s technology worked.” – Business Insider.
Watch and Read about how this ‘bright young thing’, Stanford-dropout, Steve Jobs-admirer, was able to establish this start-up company, recruiting all kinds of powerful people to be either her investors and/or board members, and then everything fell apart. There are so many different things to discuss, but we will focus on three topics below.
Please respond to questions below:
- It was discussed in the CNN article and also briefly mentioned in Erika Cheung’s Ted Talk that all kinds of powerful men agreed to invest in the company or be on the board of directors. Some of them defended Holmes vehemently for a very long time even after the suspicion had arisen. Think about what made them so loyal. Why are we (people in general) attracted to fraudsters?
- Erika Cheung’s Ted Talk and the WSJ article on another whistleblower, Tyler Shultz, give us a glimpse of what goes through a whistleblower’s mind. Their stories show us that job security and the concern of retaliation from the company are not the only things that can stop potential whistleblowers from acting. Based on what you read and watch, discuss what factors (which I did not discuss here) can affect individuals’ decision to become a whistleblower. You can also think of other factors that have not been presented in the video/article.
- The video ‘Dice Experiment’ is a snippet of that HBO documentary, ‘The Inventor’, for which you watched the trailer. While the psychology described by Dan Ariely, a renowned behavioral economist, cannot explain Holmes’s action entirely, the result of the experiment is very interesting. Can you think of any other example of people who committed wrongdoings motivated by the reasons Ariely discusses in the video?