Just six months ago Elizabeth Holmes, the billionaire founder of Theranos, was whining to Fortune Magazine about not having understood “what it means to be a woman in this space” presumably referring to the biotech sector.
“Until what happened in the last four weeks, I didn’t understand what it means to be a woman in this space,” she says, shaking her head. “Every article starting with, ‘A young woman.’ Right? Someone came up to me the other day, and they were like, ‘I have never read an article about Mark Zuckerberg that starts with ‘A young man.’ ”
“I wanted the focus to be on my work,” she says slowly and deliberately. “I don’t want to go into a meeting and have people looking at what I’m wearing. I want them listening to what I’m saying. And I want them to be looking at what we do.” She pauses, then adds, “Because when you walk into the room and you’re a 19-year-old girl, people interact with you in a certain way.”
Well don’t worry, we all know “what you do” now at Theranos, it’s called fraud! While Fortune credits Holmes with only “hinting at” sexism, some feminist whiner I’ve never heard of (and probably scores of others) claim media coverage of Holmes has been sexist.
I’m just curious, is the exposure of Holmes’ $9 billion dollar fraud, also “sexism in the media”? Of course I’m just being facetious, we all know that women in business are cut far too much slack by the media, excuses are made for their incompetence or sometimes it’s just plain ignored or even covered up.
uBeam is another example of a fantastic fraud founded by a woman that the media has been looking the other way on until they just couldn’t anymore because a former VP of engineering at the company spilled the beams. Admittedly, this particular scam is on a much smaller scale than Theranos, it’s still into the tens of millions of dollars. Many engineers far more qualified to comment on wireless charging technology via ultrasound than Meredith Perry with her background in “Paleobiology” having been exposing the real world infeasibility of the physics uBeam since as early as August, 2014.
I’ve got an idea, how about we go back to that meritocracy thing?
You can read the original blog articles by uBeam’s former VP of engineering here. I recommend you start at the beginning and work your way forward chronologically. It’s a long read but well worth it. I’ll leave you with the intro:
Today is the 6 month anniversary of my resignation from uBeam, a startup I’d spent the previous two and a half years working on. I had gone from being one of the three engineers working in a garage to create the basic technology (literally), through fundraising nearly $23,000,000, and being VP Engineering in one of the hottest tech startups, to being willing to walk away from both a team I had built and was proud to work with, and any chance of recouping the income and opportunities I had sacrificed in getting there.
It marked the end of about four years of working on a several different startups, during which time I made a lot of mistakes, worked on some very interesting things, met some fantastic engineers and other co-workers, and got first hand insight into the workings of VC and startups in tech. It’s the last part I find most fascinating – how the whole ecosystem of startups actually works.
I’ve watched all the recent publicity surrounding Theranos, about a young, media-darling, Steve Jobs idolizing female CEO, who defies the skeptics and without any training in the field apparently makes strides that promise to change the world. Who raises millions on promises of ground-breaking technology that’s just around the corner, yet never makes public demonstrations or subjects their technology to third party audit. A CEO of a company that never answers substantial questions raised by veterans in that field, or criticism that they are doing nothing but playing a smoke and mirrors game to fleece the next round of investors, but is more than willing to speak to the press on their ‘vision’ (and nothing more).
I’ve followed that story and felt an odd sense of deja-vu about the coverage. How does a company, founded by someone with no realistic credentials or experience, raise so much money on what may never be delivered? Who decides it gets so much press coverage? Surely the VC’s are performing their due-diligence and there are adults minding the store?
There’s a saying: “You don’t want to see how the sausage gets made.”
Theranos, blond woman running deep tech co. uBeam, blond woman running deep tech co. Hmm…https://t.co/OStYrWSHo5
— Startup L. Jackson (@StartupLJackson) November 8, 2015