‘Bad Blood’ to Good Friday: How Theranos and its founder diagnosed Easter FOMO

The book “Bad Blood” tracks the rise and fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes.
The book “Bad Blood” tracks the rise and fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes. Knopf Publishing

In his best-selling book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Carreyrou documents the sensational rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of the Silicon Valley startup Theranos, once valued at $9 billion. Her story is the subject of a recent HBO documentary and is currently optioned as a feature film starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Once dubbed the “next Steve Jobs,” this Stanford dropout reportedly revolutionized the health care industry “one drop of blood at a time,” through elimination of what she believed was the inhumanity of long, painful needles. Theranos claimed its technology could perform hundreds of common blood diagnostic tests with just one drop of fingertip blood, mitigating lab costs and eliminating traditional venipuncture.

Her celebrity was meteoric. A 2014 Forbes Magazine article minted her “the youngest and wealthiest self-made billionaire,” with a personal net worth of $4.5 billion. Holmes’ executive board, stacked with business and political luminaries, included former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, and former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Seasoned investors such as Larry Ellison, Rupert Murdoch, Betsy DeVos and the Walton family pitched in $900 million without reviewing any audited financials.

By mid-2015, there was more FOMO (fear of missing out) surrounding Elizabeth Holmes than a Jonas Brothers reunion packed with selfie-obsessed teenagers. President Barack Obama named her a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship and Harvard appointed her a Medical School Board Fellow, despite her deficit of medical education. Walgreens and Safeway inked multimillion-dollar commitments with Theranos, overlooking glaring gaps that skirted FDA clearance or credible peer reviews. Henry Kissinger’s New York Times article boldly predicted that the “social implications of Theranos will be vast.”

Later that year, The Wall Street Journal’s Carreyrou – tipped by whistleblowers – first exposed the company’s fraudulent technology and falsified lab reports, and wrote about the collateral damage to both patients and medical providers. The bloodbath spilled shocking details of Silicon Valley’s most massive fraud. The fall was cataclysmic. By 2018, Theranos was defunct and its stock was worthless, and Holmes was facing 20 years behind bars. When deposed, Holmes repeated the phrase “I don’t know” over 600 times. Fortune Magazine counted Holmes among “The World’s 19 Most Disappointing Leaders.”

Kissinger was correct – the social implications of Theranos are vast, particularly when added to the annals of our diseased bloodlines. Fraud and deception are hardly new diagnoses – charted daily across the news cycles. Easter is our annual wellness check, when we review our generational health history and give thanks for the cure.

Twenty-seven centuries ago, the checkup didn’t go so well. A whistleblower named Isaiah charted six indictments to nations embroiled in bloody deception. The bloodbath ensued when the nation of Judah failed to conduct accurate blood draws on temple altars. This legal violation eclipsed the controversial board seat Judah handed to the Assyrian king. With the temple sacrifices shorted by the finger stick of idolatry, Isaiah rendered the treasury worthless and predicted a 70-year sentence in Babylon. The fall was cataclysmic. And Judah’s new Assyrian board member facilitated the sell-off quicker than Rupert Murdoch resold his $150 million of Theranos stock for $1 as a write-off.

When deposed by an encounter with Yahweh, rather than “I don’t know,” Isaiah uttered, “I am undone.” His humility empowered a long-view forecast: a future suffering servant, whose gruesome blood draw would deliver the rest of us from our own bankruptcy:

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6

Four first-century reporters – tipped off by Isaiah’s whistleblowing – recorded the deposition and trial of this servant at the hands of Pontius Pilate. According to their peer-reviewed, audited statements, the Gospel writers corroborated that the generations of sheep counted among the most disappointing leaders in the world, and would become equal co-heirs in this monumental buyback. The shed blood and resurrection of Isaiah’s suffering servant had reversed humanity’s massive fraud. We are no longer undone.

This is our Easter FOMO, fear of missing the annual appointment to worship the one who sweat blood – one drop at a time – to redeem our devaluation. And there is no payout without that painful, sword-piercing puncture into a crushed sacrifice of God on a Roman cross.

“He is risen indeed” – repeated at Easter well over 600 times – is the chart topper of all our feature films. It is the only answer that heals our bad blood.

The social implications of the blood shed on Good Friday are vast.

Mindi Bach, of Meridian, is a vice president at SkySon Financial.