Re: Sexy Steve Jobs Costume: The Theranos Thread
Posted: 16 Jun 2018, 09:07
Hell hell hell hell hell yes.
Free Minds. Free Markets. Free Beer.
Her Famous Student Didn’t Listen — and Is Paying a Big Price
Dai Sugano, MediaNews Group, The Mercury News via Getty Images
Phyllis I. Gardner
By Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz JUNE 30, 2019 PREMIUM
Before Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford University to start the blood-testing company Theranos, she asked one of her professors for advice. That professor, Phyllis I. Gardner, told her that the science wasn’t there, that it wouldn’t work. Holmes didn’t listen, and the rest is history — headlines, really. In 2018, Holmes settled civil fraud charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. And this month a federal court will hear from Holmes and her former business partner, who have been charged with deceiving investors, patients, and doctors. Holmes has denied wrongdoing.
Gardner said it wasn’t going to work. Lots of people didn’t believe her. Now, one blockbuster Wall Street Journal investigation and a book, documentary, podcast, and federal lawsuit later, Gardner, a professor in the School of Medicine, was proved right.
As Holmes’s story unfolds, and onlookers, including universities, try to glean lessons from the bad blood, Gardner said they should emphasize to students the importance of developing values rather than chasing a billion-dollar idea. She spoke with The Chronicle about her role as an adviser and why it’s not enough for students to pay lip service to empathy, honesty, and the other virtues they should have learned along the way — they have to live them.
At Stanford you have a reputation for helping students develop their science or medical ideas. How did you develop that reputation?
In the mid-’90s I took a leave of absence and went to the Alza Corporation, initially as the medical strategist for the new technology institute. After my sabbatical, within a month or two I was offered the job of my previous boss, who was promoted. In that role I was actually on the executive committee and covered whole technology, including through manufacturing. It was an extensive exposure because I had direct access to the CEO. I love the corporate world. It’s a fundamentally different approach.
I came back as senior associate dean for education and student affairs. Meanwhile, I kept my hand in the industry. I developed a reputation for being both an academic person and an industry person. While that’s much more common now, it was not that common in those days, so people came to me because they knew I had experience, I knew people in the field, I knew venture capitalists, and yet I also knew the world of academia.
What type of advice did people ask you?
Everything. What’s an acceptable career path? How can I start this company? How do I go to medical school? A lot of the times it wasn’t about their idea, it was guidance.
There’s no guidance for giving students advice. How did you do that?
I never saw myself as a gatekeeper. I never saw myself as the final, be-all opinion in anything. I only shared whatever experience I had. It’s general advice that you give to your kid –– that’s how I always saw it. The fundamental one where there was a difference — that’s Elizabeth Holmes. I thought her idea wasn’t going to work, and it was a different idea than she ultimately carried out. She didn’t care what I had to say. But I never had anybody else like that.
“It's quintessential that higher-education institutions instill moral values as much as possible in their students. ... I'm not sure that they all do that.”
You were one of the only voices who was skeptical of Elizabeth Holmes throughout her rise. What was it like being a vocal naysayer and not having people listen to you?
It was weird. I thought, "What are people thinking?" I began to know the people who had been greatly harmed by her. So we had this little cadre of people who were naysayers.
But what was it like not having people listen?
People would listen, but I felt like they thought I was going crazy.
You’re on the Harvard Medical School’s Board of Fellows. What was it like trying to get the board to veto Holmes’s appointment as a member?
In January 2015, I started talking with John Carreyrou [a Wall Street Journal reporter and author of the book Bad Blood, based on his investigation into Holmes and her company], and then I knew there were legs developing in this story. Summer of 2016, I read that she was on the Board of Fellows, so I called up my friends in the development office because they arrange the meetings. I said, "You can’t do this. That’s crazy." They said, "It’s too late."
Fast forward to the first meeting of the Board of Fellows. It was the day the Wall Street Journal article came out. I’m quoted in it. I’m on the board, and she’s sitting across from me doing her Elizabeth Holmes thing. That’s when I first heard that deep voice.
She lasted only two meetings.
There is an emphasis, especially in Silicon Valley, of celebrating a young entrepreneur who dropped out of a prestigious university to do something really lucrative. How does that pair with the idea that universities should emphasize other values?
Culture has a lot to do with it. The culture is saying, Get a scalp to hang on your belt by starting a successful company, get your first Ferrari. That’s a dangerous signal.
Life is long. Get your dream. If you’re getting an M.D., get your residency training. You might have a degree, but you don’t know a thing about patients until you have a responsibility of taking care of them. You can do other things over the course of your life. You must really understand you’ve got to develop values — and not just values, but knowledge, deep knowledge, to be useful.
How do you emphasize that to your students?
It comes down to the culture and leadership to instill those values. I can bring up Harvard Medical School because they’re doing it properly. In the past, they were very academically oriented and looked down on anybody who did any kind of industry. But they certainly come around to say this is valuable. For example, there’s an M.D./M.B.A. program, but they tell those students they must do residency.
So they don’t lose what keeps them grounded?
Exactly. I hate to contrast Harvard and Stanford, but Stanford is in Silicon Valley. The Silicon Valley culture there is just imbued in everything, and it’s hard.
It’s quintessential that higher-education institutions instill moral values as much as possible in students — that through their words and their actions they demonstrate integrity, honesty, and service to humankind. I’m not sure that they all do that. The institutions and professors should try to the best of their ability to instill those values in people.
The only thing one can do is have universities provide the highest ethical standards in the world for students, and they don’t always. It behooves the universities and the leadership to be sure they’re presenting the right example. That’s what we are: examples. I’m not saying I’m perfect, by any stretch. But that’s what I strive for.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz is breaking-news editor. Follow her on Twitter @FernandaZamudio, or email her at email@example.com.
That's a great article. I'm not sure I can get onboard "Theranos as art" though. Holmes was a little too much conman for that. Her grand vision seemed to be her on top of the world. I think the idea she was pushing was just the vehicle for that. It wasn't the thing she was passionate about like dude who spent his whole time building Orange World. Maybe in a couple decades when she's out of jail and she's still trying to get people to fund her blood testing kit business that she's finally perfected I'll reconsider.
& tl;drthoreau wrote: ↑14 Oct 2019, 12:16It's 2019 and people are still stanning Elizabeth Holmes?
https://www.realclearmarkets.com/articl ... 03946.html
thoreau wrote: ↑14 Oct 2019, 12:16It's 2019 and people are still stanning Elizabeth Holmes?
https://www.realclearmarkets.com/articl ... 03946.html
Well, what do you expect from an 8th grader?Billed as an unputdownable account
It's worse than that. He denies it altogether. Note the scare quotes.
All of this rates mention in consideration of a popular narrative that’s taken hold about a “fraudulent” Theranos having made false claims about its technology. Not so fast.
The other annoying thing is because a very small number of people with no training in a field made discoveries in that field, you need to fetishize the people with no domain knowledge. The vast, vast, vast majority of human advancements come from people like Pasteur, with years of study and training rather than outsiders. Even his valorization of Kalanick basically ignores that gypsy cabs existed for years and was hardly some sort of novel discovery. Just that Lucy in the blue Ford Escort didn’t have VC funding with an army of lawyers to go toe to toe with the government, so she had to keep shit on the down low.Painboy wrote:I've come to generally dislike the term "visionary." At least how a lot of people use it anyway. Like no one else has big ideas. Further the difficulty in actual execution is just swept under the rug like it's just a given if everyone gets behind the visionary.
Also there was a good deal of fraud going on in that company that the author conveniently ignores or tries to dismiss. She was making deals with other companies as if the product was working, when clearly it wasn't and she knew it. The Wright Brothers weren't selling airplanes to people saying they worked before they actually got one off the ground.
Did James Burke live in vain?JasonL wrote: ↑14 Oct 2019, 18:44We over emphasize the last straw or tipping conditions. Most revolutionary change is an accumulation of field specific innovations. There is no amazon without Walmart and there is no Walmart without standard shipping containers. We just gush over the most current version if the become important in the market or culture.
You don't really have to wonder; Toys R Us actually did exactly that in '98 or '99. They were so massively successful at it that they couldn't meet demand, didn't get the orders out in time, and got smacked by the FTC for their failure. The stock and reputation hit was part of why Bain was able to sweep in buy them out, and why nobody made too much noise when they partnered with Amazon to run their online system after that for the next 8 or so years. Meanwhile, Amazon's early problems got blown off because nobody expected anything of them. Innovation might be a matter of stacking advances, but there's something to be said for being the New Guy with the "I'mma break shit and I don't care where I fall short" narrative, instead of the "this brand has a legacy to protect" guy. Especially in an era where people like Bain are looking to chop-shop companies like that if they get too far from "delighting shareholders."
There is something to this. There are definitely a number of ideas that we see startups do that people inside the company came up with years earlier that got smothered in the crib because the potential reputational risk was too high in case things didn't go smoothly..Shem wrote: ↑14 Oct 2019, 23:51You don't really have to wonder; Toys R Us actually did exactly that in '98 or '99. They were so massively successful at it that they couldn't meet demand, didn't get the orders out in time, and got smacked by the FTC for their failure. The stock and reputation hit was part of why Bain was able to sweep in buy them out, and why nobody made too much noise when they partnered with Amazon to run their online system after that for the next 8 or so years. Meanwhile, Amazon's early problems got blown off because nobody expected anything of them. Innovation might be a matter of stacking advances, but there's something to be said for being the New Guy with the "I'mma break shit and I don't care where I fall short" narrative, instead of the "this brand has a legacy to protect" guy. Especially in an era where people like Bain are looking to chop-shop companies like that if they get too far from "delighting shareholders."