She dropped out of Stanford at the age of 19 years to found her own company. Within 11 years, she was one of Fortune 500’s darlings, gracing the June 2014 cover. She was once worth $5 billion dollars and lauded as one of the richest women in the world. Investors as varied and famous as Oracle founder Larry Ellison, the Walton family of Walmart, and Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim, eagerly invested in her company. She was honored by ex-presidents and industry titans.
She is Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the Palo Alto company, Theranos. The company touted a disruptive and innovative new medical technology. Instead of the usual painful venipuncture needed to obtain a tube of blood for laboratory testing, only a drop of blood was needed. Theranos developed a proprietary blood chemistry analyzer to render an accurate diagnosis using a fraction of the usual amount of blood. In spite of the fact, there were no published papers that could verify the invention, numerous investors were willing to back her company. Walgreens, the drug store chain, inked a deal to offer its product in over 40 of its locations.
The cracks began to appear in October 2015 after a scathing article in the Wall Street Journal, questioned the claims and accuracy of its blood testing technology. This article was published at the same time other laboratory insiders were raising the same skepticism. Pathologists, the medical specialists in charge of directing laboratory medicine, were at the forefront of the charge. As the calls for government scrutiny increased, Theranos’ laboratory license was suspended after an inspection yielded numerous quality control issues. With the credibility of Theranos at stake, in February 2016, Holmes agreed to have the Cleveland Clinic perform a validation study of their invention. The results unequivocally stated the technology could not be trusted. The emperor truly had no clothes. Numerous lawsuits followed with finger pointing in all directions. Her collapse was as stupendous as her meteoric rise. She was eventually fined $500,000 and barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years. She is also facing additional criminal charges in federal court. One whistle blower stated, “I have no idea what was going on in her head. She is definitely not taking responsibility. Does she realize she is lying? I don’t know….A lot of people knew this. It was an inside joke.”
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.
Proverbs 11:1 (ESV)
This proverb and its principal are repeated at least 10 other times in the Bible. (Leviticus 19:35-36, Deuteronomy 25:13-16, Ezekiel 45:9-10, Amos 8:4-6, Hosea 12:7-8, Micah 6:10-14, Proverbs 16:11, Proverbs 20:10, Proverbs 20:23, and Proverbs 22:28).
If God, the Holy Spirit, repeatedly instructed His prophets to record this verse, we should definitely pay attention. While the verse may be taken at face value, the deeper message is honesty in business. The lessons of Theranos will be debated in business schools for years, but the deeper message is the same. God demands the same high ethical standards from us in life and in business. Theranos destroyed many lives and caused anguish for thousands of patients who received erroneous laboratory results. The deepest message is our sinful nature.
God needs to continually remind us that we will continue to fail and live with deceptive moral principles until we all acknowledge that our sins have separated us from a loving God who created all of us. What can we do? We need to confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Only then, will the destructive cycle of sin begin to be reversed and we will be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.