Today’s news coverage of the SEC’s decision to settle fraud charges against Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was marked by a somber tone, with the company releasing a simple statement saying it “is pleased to be bringing this matter to a close and looks forward to advancing its technology.” Holmes, who did not comment, paid a $500,000 penalty and agreed to a 10-year ban from serving as an officer or director in a public company.
What a difference a few years makes: When the Wall Street Journal‘s John Carreyrou wrote his first story back on October 16, 2015, raising doubts about the blood-testing company’s claims, the reaction was a lot different.
- The company responded with a lengthy statement denouncing the piece and questioning Carreyrou’s integrity, calling it “factually and scientifically erroneous and grounded in baseless assertions by inexperienced and disgruntled former employees and industry incumbents.” It ended on a fierce note: “Stories like this come along when you threaten to change things, seeded by entrenched interests that will do anything to prevent change, but in the end nothing will deter us from making our tests the best and of the highest integrity for the people we serve, and continuing to fight for transformative change in health care.”
- Holmes went on Jim Cramer’s Mad Money show on CNBC and, riffing on a line first uttered by her idol Steve Jobs, voiced righteous indignation: “This is what happens when you work to change things. First they think you’re crazy, then they fight you, and then, all of a sudden, you change the world.“
- Returning to the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, she and Theranos’s then-president and COO, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, addressed a meeting of their staff and fiercely denied the article’s claims. Hundreds of employees stood up and started chanting, “Fuck you, Carreyrou… fuck you, Carreyrou!”