Friday, March 22, 2019

The Theranos Movie | Lefsetz Letter

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one

John Lennon

People are full of shit.

But not everyone.

My father was a skeptic. If someone told a story too good to be true, he pointed it out. I’m my father’s son. Where has that left me?

Oftentimes out of the loop.

One of the horrifying moments of this documentary, and there are many, is when the Theranos employees celebrate FDA approval of one of their tests. They’re playing music, people are dancing and…it’s scary. Because everybody’s caught up in the mania. False mania in this case. And our world is now run by groupthink.

Yup, whether it be the anti-vaxxers or the right wingers or the anti-Israel/Semites, these people are part of a mob, they pump each other up, they believe that they’re creating a bulldozer force that will run over every enemy.

But not one as strong as David Boies.

Legal intimidation. Most people are never put on the spot. But when you are…you first want to get out, your inclination is to sign anything to not be part of it, but then you start thinking…HOW MUCH MONEY IS THIS GONNA COST?

So Elizabeth Holmes was a dreamer. The experts told her it couldn’t be done. But she went ahead and tried anyway. Kinda like the musicians who send you their demos and you tell them to give up. They don’t believe you, they get angry, they double-down, they believe if they just work hard enough, they’re gonna show you.

But they’re not.

And let’s not underestimate the power of an attractive young woman. She charmed dirty old men. That’s right, we can talk all about the #MeToo movement, but biology never changes. Actually, we can’t talk about it, because the groupthink mob allows no discussion, they think they’re right and therefore there’s no working out of a continuum of offense, what the penalty might be…instead, men go underground and talk only amongst themselves.

A woman told Holmes it couldn’t happen. An MD, a professor at Stanford. She said her dream was good, but science wouldn’t allow it.

This was actually one of Holmes’s initial ideas. You see she wanted to get rich, she wanted to become a player, just like her idols Edison and Jobs. So she went in pursuit of it.

Was she a crook from the get-go?

Probably not. But when you’re running out of money, you’ll lie and cheat and do anything to survive. If someone’s desperate…STAY AWAY!

And we could talk all about the fear at the company and… The truth is, the employees needed the jobs. That’s what’s lost in the discussion of these tech titans, that their enterprises run not only on money, but people. Those people aren’t gonna quit without a new job. And they’ve drunk the kool-aid so it’s hard to do a 180. And when everybody tells you you’re wrong…

There’s that groupthink thing again.

And you and me wouldn’t lie to Walgreens, never mind investors. And you and me would ultimately admit our faults. But not Elizabeth, she’s a modern American, a millennial through and through, deny, deny, deny. Truth is a passe concept. Ever since Clinton lied about the blow job. Trump lies seemingly each and every day. Who’s gonna catch them?

The media. The print media. Which is also excoriated by Trump.

TV is talking heads, they do almost no reporting, other than fires and cat rescues. It’s entertainment. How do we know this? When he was struggling, Tucker Carlson appeared on Bubba the Love Sponge’s radio show and said heinous things for ratings. Reporters don’t do that, or if they do, they’re fired.

So you’ve got a guy at the “Wall Street Journal” who gets a lead and follows it up.

Follow-through, that’s something that’s lacking in today’s society. They say half of getting ahead is showing up. A lot of the rest is doing the job assigned.

But that’s when David Boies comes in…

We laud people until the truth of their identity is revealed. Most people never get famous, are never in the spotlight, then again, think about all the people finding out their parents are not, as a result of biological testing.

If you’ve got money, you can bury the other side in paper. That’s what the big firms do. But the press’s job is to stand up to this. John Carreyrou of the “Wall Street Journal” did. I remember reading his stories in the paper, although at the time I knew nothing about Theranos other than its name.

But Carreyrou did his homework. There were pie charts. He just laid out the facts and it was clear that…

Theranos was a fraud.

And then we started hearing about Elizabeth Holmes. You think you want attention, but when you get it you’d better have your ducks lined up. Kinda like Olivia Jade, thinking she could get famous and rich by posting on Instagram featuring the products of sponsors. When there’s nothing there, it’ll be revealed.

And for over a week we’ve been inundated with stories about Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Sure, they’re offenders, but minor ones. I’d hate to see them behind bars, but that’s where they’ve got to go to restore confidence in our government, make the little people believe in the system, especially after the sentence for Manafort.

But the truth is they’re actresses. With almost no power. And relatively speaking, not that much money. Whereas the big boys…

And they usually are boys. Jump into the arena and be prepared. They’re protecting what they’ve got.

Kinda like the labels during the Napster era. Their only problem was ignorance. They thought the law would solve all their problems, they did not know the power of the internet and the people.

It’s gonna cost a lot to make it. Friendships, relationships. And when you get into the belly of the beast, you’ll find deception and the aforementioned groupthink… It’s not only Theranos, talk to anybody who has ever worked at a record label. Multiple offenses take place. From trying to game Spotify to lying about sales to…it’s endless!

And when Zach Horowitz was the lawyer at MCA/Universal, the legal department was seen as a profit center. Think about that.

So what we’ve learned here is it takes a certain kind of person to be an entrepreneur. Just wanting to be one is not enough. And ideas are nothing without execution. Elizabeth Holmes had a great idea, it just couldn’t be done. Furthermore, she’s not that good of a Silicon Valley titan, because everybody knows when you hit a wall, you pivot!

We’re inundated with stories of people who never gave up and made it.

But some people still win the lottery. Some people are struck by lightning.

You’re probably good at something, think about what that is.

And know that life is long. Maybe if Elizabeth Holmes had stayed at Stanford, she might have learned some lessons that would have served her. We venerate the youth, but the old have experience. Young people think they know everything, older people know they do not.

But we keep hearing the mantras… Failure is a badge of honor. Fake it till you make it. It’s like a religion, as bogus as the one with the little man in the sky.

But still, you watch this documentary and you come away with the same lesson you learned from the college crisis…the game is rigged, the odds are stacked against you. This is not “Boston Legal,” “L.A. Law” or “Ally McBeal,” David Boies is a real lawyer in a real situation and he’s fighting harder and more intensely than anybody on television. Furthermore, this film says Theranos spent hundreds of millions on legal fees!

I’m gonna leave you with a line that will turn your stomach, just to show you how the world really works. Most males are watching Elizabeth Holmes and at the end they’re debating…yes or no.

And you know what the question is about, not business, but sex.

But we can’t talk about that.

We can’t talk about so much in America because of the gotcha police.

Then again, almost everybody is ignorant. Holmes snookered investors and the government because they knew nothing about science. Every field requires expertise. And a lot of this knowledge is free, all you’ve got to do is read.

But people would rather fantasize, burnish their brand online.

And one day they wake up and find out the train has left the station, and no one has protected them, no one has given them a hand to get on board, that they’re on their own, with no destination home.

Let this be a warning signal. Watch this documentary on HBO. Consider it an assignment more valuable than those business courses you take or took at school. Because this is how the real world works. And the sooner you learn that lesson…

The faster you’ll get ahead.

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley


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