We can't get enough Elizabeth Holmes. The founder and CEO of Theranos once captivated the imagination of risk capitalists and magazine profiles with an overly-true story of revolutionary blood test technology. Three years later, many federal studies and eleven criminals later, our appetite moved to Holmes deceiving the world. Silicon Valley's moral story – a real crime saga with a dash of Fyre Fest-schadenfreude and an additional premiere of icy light with a mysteriously deep voice ̵
One of the documentaries "The Inventor: Out for Blood" in the Silicon Valley debuted on Monday at HBO. The film by Oscar winning director Alex Gibon presents a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Holmes as a contemporary Tom Edison's failure. The Menlo Park Wizard, Gibney reminds us, was a "mistaken until you make it" master who raised money from promises until he realized how to make a incandescent bulb. Of course, Edison finally came, and Holmes had been imprisoned for up to 20 years, and his company was forced to cancel tens of thousands of blood tests for patients in Arizona.
Gibné devoted his career to what he calls "fraud", with topics including Enron, the Church of Scientology, Lance Armstrong and the Catholic Church. We talked to him about the Theranos lessons
What made you make a movie about Theranos
I was interested not only in history, but in what he had to say about psychology of fraud – not just something deceive others, but also how they cheat themselves to deceive others and deceive people. How does this happen?
We are among the national shocks between scammers. Do you see that Elizabeth Holmes is part of the American fraud archetype?
For a while I have been this rhythm – fraud. I think what's interesting about Elizabeth: What happens when you go on a dream and your dream doesn't work? Do you recognize that? Or are you just looking for ways to continue your dream and pretend that it really works when not?
I think we, as Americans, are returning to movies like The Music Man. deceiver, someone who violates the rules.
But I think the most important thing for me about Elizabeth is that she had a mission – a noble mission – that she wanted to accomplish. And what led her to it was the idea that the police called "noble corruption" or "the end justifies the means". You know, if you are aiming for a movable goal, it is good for you to falsify what you do.
I'm curious as to how you expected her initial motivation to be really noble
[Wall Street Journal reporter John] The Carreyrou book suggests that she had cut off corners early and lay down on people. But I think if she wanted a lot of money she could do much more than she did. If she had been Bernie Madoff and just tried to do that to leave the bank then she could pay herself more beautiful than she did.
his career. What is the connection between Scientology and Silicon Valley or Silicon Valley and Enron
I think the relationship between science and Elizabeth Holmes is a "prison of faith". Look at what's happening [Theranos board member] George's Shultz – [eventual whistleblower] Grandfather Tyler Shultz; Secretary of State. Even when his granddaughter comes to him and says, "You know grandmother, there is a terrible deception in Theranos, he can't cancel or withdraw or get rid of the belief that he is." He is Elizabeth Holmes in prison. He is committed to her, and says to him, "Oh wow, it's terrible," he would have to go back to the beginning and admit he was deceptive and stupid.
On the other hand, you have taken something like Enron, and you look at people like Jeff Skilling. Jeff Skilling, I think, wasn't like Bernie Madoff. He had a mission. His mission was that a completely unbundled, unregulated free market would end up with tremendous social benefits.
This end idea justifies the measures and tries to manipulate reality to match the dream, those I think are consistent
Many people around the Silicon Valley refer to Theranos and say, "They are not a true Silicon Valley. We don't like it.
There is an element of truth that contains an element. Report that this is something that is the DNA of many Silicon Valley companies. And there are many powerful Silicon Valley companies – reputable – still lying to people. Look at Apple and the battery. Take a look at Facebook and Google about how they collect our data and how they abuse information and have also turned to our worst instincts.
In some ways, Elizabeth was outgoing, and it was true that many of the mighty Silicon Valley VCs had not invested in it because they didn't see the evidence and they were suspicious. But I think that "moving fast breaks", regardless of the potential damage and how it can become culturally problematic, it shares DNA with other Silicon Valley companies
You could not speak to Elizabeth Holmes.
My producer was sitting with him for about five hours from the recording to try and persuade her to participate, and we were unsuccessful. We came back and tried to talk to us, and she refused. She said, "When we get back to our feet, you can see a successful Theranos."
At first we talked very hard with the staff because they are all afraid [Theranos lawyer and board member] David Boies and the case was brought. It took a long time to accelerate people's ability to record, and then we were very fortunate in terms of something inside, giving us treasure assets for video.
Roger Parloff, journalist at Fortune magazine, who wrote the first profile of Holmes magazine made some guilt to help create a myth about Theranos, but he was also the only person in a film that expressed any the real regret for what happened, so it comes through this very tragic figure
. He sinked it down and made a mistake and put it in the lid. Seeing those moments when his confusion, but his anger almost translates him into the word, is a very powerful moment. We live at a time when the president has a scam and everything is directed at the bias of each of his cognitions, but Roger, I think, has taken this idea really seriously.
Journalists are both truth seekers and narrators. Through Elizabeth Holmes, it was a powerful story that they really wanted to talk about a young female entrepreneur in the men's dominant Silicon Valley, which really comes to something good. But when you see something that is such a great story, sometimes you have to wonder if it's a fairy tale.
One thing the documentary sees very well is a long list of old men who seem to be very young: journalists Parloff, Ken Auletta and Charlie Rose; investors Don Luc, Larry Ellison, Tim Draper and Rupert Murdoch; Board members George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Jim Mattis and Channing Robertson; and others, including Joe Biden and Bill Clinton.
I think it's so obvious. Phyllis Gardner [a Stanford professor of medicine] refers to the board and says, "They obviously gave in to a certain charm." We are firmly established, but it is obvious that they have given in to a certain charm. She was young. She was beautiful. In some way he blinded them
I think Elizabeth herself inspired my myth with this youth idea – young people conquer all. Steve Jobs left Reed College. I'll leave Stanford. You don't need these dance lessons. All you need is a genius. Maybe if she'd been to Stanford for a few more years and took a few more courses, it might have made us a little good.
In a way we are making a revere youth and Elizabeth inside the company used it. She didn't really believe older people because they had experienced it and showed her, or they just didn't get the young Silicon Valley businessmen getting it. You move fast, you interrupt things, don't ask many questions, don't give me your old paradigm. Well, sometimes you know that experience can be very valuable, right?
Fortunately, two very young people are also speakers who are finishing it. Because they don't care so much about the families they need to support, so I think they're more idealistic. They go out of college and they are not cynical yet.
I think men outside. Clearly, she understood. There were no women on the board. How strange was it for a woman who is a general manager?
Have you ever been concerned that you will get into the same trap? Personally, I was somewhat surprised that the film was more sympathetic to her than…
… I do not think that its motives were altruistic. I think the comparison with Edison is generous.
This is the only generous and there are several reasons. One of them, I really don't think it is Madoff's character. So I give her credit at least with this mission meaning. However, in my opinion, this is not good news. You can look at Hitler and say that he is the guy who believed that the end justifies the measures, right? This is not good news.
Comparison with Edison – yes, Edison was a true inventor. However, let us also be honest: Elizabeth exists for many people who promise and sometimes do not supply enough, and sometimes cheat. I didn't want to do a movie where Silicon Valley is behind the hook. Because if it is just a bad apple – you know what they said about the people of Abu Ghraib. They are just bad apples, so they have nothing to do with the whole system. Well, it was Abu Ghraib and I think it's the butt of the Silicon Valley. I think it exists in the context of Silicon Valley culture, although it is highly developed in many respects. So the tension I encountered was interested in playing.
I wonder if I was too rich. But it's hard to know. She feels she is a victim. And it's hard to say. That's why I put it at the end of Phyllis saying, "You're not a victim." You know, the bush stops with you, Elizabeth Holmes.
This conversation has been edited and shortened to make it shorter and clearer.