A cautionary tale for Silicon Valley

first_imgThe Wall Street Journal investigative reporter whose new book chronicles the spectacular collapse of the blood-testing company Theranos and its alleged fraudulent activity told a Harvard audience that the fall is a cautionary tale for other high-tech firms aspiring to disrupt the health care industry.During a panel discussion at Harvard Law School on Monday, John Carreyrou said successful Silicon Valley executives these days often voice their desire to take aim at a health care system they view as dysfunctional and in need of bold new ideas. But Carreyrou cautioned that the “fake it till you make it” approach that has served many high-tech entrepreneurs — hyping unproven products and then debugging them as they go along — may be ill-suited for medicine.“It probably will be a breath of fresh air for Silicon Valley” to enter the health care realm, he said, “but hopefully everyone now will be cognizant of this Theranos precedent and of what can happen if you ‘fake it till you make it’ with a medical product that doctors and patients rely on for life-or-death decisions.”Carreyrou’s best-seller, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” details the rise and fall of Theranos and its charismatic founder and former CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, and how he uncovered the story.Carreyrou greets Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana before the event. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerJoining Carreyrou on the panel were Glenn Cohen, James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law and faculty director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School; Rakesh Khurana, Danoff Dean of Harvard College, Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development at Harvard Business School, professor of sociology, and faculty dean of Cabot House; and Rachel Wang, J.D. ’19. Douglas Eby, senior fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center and CEO of Cambridge Science, served as moderator.Founded in 2003, Theranos became a quick Silicon Valley sensation, boasting a $9 billion valuation and a host of prominent backers impressed with its promise of a new blood-testing technology.But some media stories cast doubt on its claims, and in March Theranos and Holmes agreed to settle massive civil fraud charges. In June, Holmes and Theranos’ former president, Ramesh Balwani, were indicted on wire fraud charges, which prosecutors said stemmed from a multimillion dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate alleged scheme to defraud doctors and patients.Reflecting on the story, Khurana said he found it “heartbreaking to have a young, talented individual … who lives in a kind of culture in which getting an education is not an end in itself but merely a means increasingly to developing your app,” without considering social responsibilities or engaging in the “deep introspection” that a liberal arts education offers.,Carreyrou agreed the scandal highlights changing social values.“It used to be as a society and a country that getting elected president or winning the Nobel Prize was one of the greatest achievements that you could do,” he said. “But now it’s going to Silicon Valley and starting a startup and being valued, and … being a billionaire before you turn 30.”Asked by Wang what role gender played in the Theranos story, Carreyrou said it was central.“All my reporting shows that Elizabeth Holmes capitalized on the fact that she was a woman to win over the backing of these older men,” he said, citing as examples former Secretary of State George Shultz, venture capitalist Donald Lucas, and Stanford University engineering Professor Channing Robertson, all of whom became Theranos board members.“All these guys were flattered and also impressed with her,” Carreyrou said.Carreyrou added that when Holmes emerged, there was “a great yearning for a woman to break through in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is such a man’s world.”Cohen, citing the bullying behavior of Theranos lawyers depicted in the book, asked Carreyrou whether “this is a story about exceptional personalities or … about the way people use the law in corporate America, in Silicon Valley, in startup culture, to intimidate.” Carreyrou said it was both, calling it “a story about colorful people … who do outrageous things,” but who are “enabled by this legal foundation. … I didn’t come away from my year experience with a great impression of the legal profession.”Carreyrou recounted how his reporting began with a tip from a Missouri pathologist blogger and culminated in his locating the primary source, a former Theranos lab director. When the source agreed to talk, Carreyrou remembered thinking, “This is going to be a big story.”This event was hosted by Cambridge Science, Harvard College’s Cabot House, and the Petrie-Flom Center.​last_img read more

Report: Trump campaign listed payment to legislator’s firm

first_imgPHOENIX (AP) — A newspaper reports that former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign says it paid over $6,000 to a business belonging to an Arizona lawmaker who sought to have the Legislature overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state. The Arizona Republic reported that the campaign’s financial disclosures include a December payment of $6,037 to a corporation belonging to Republican Rep. Mark Finchem for an expense labeled “recount: legal consulting.” Finchem told the newspaper that that was reimbursement for “crowd control and security costs” for a Nov. 30 meeting he convened in Phoenix for presentations by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and others. The Associated Press’ attempts to obtain comment from Finchem were not immediately successful.last_img

Dominic Thorburn on Winning Laughs in London’s One Man, Two Guvnors & Stripping Down for Charity

first_imgThe hit London comedy One Man, Two Guvnors is entering its final stretch at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, its giddy commedia dell’arte-inspired zing intact. For that, credit a cast made up jointly of old-timers and newcomers, the latter including a bravura comic turn from 24-year-old Dominic Thorburn as Alan Dangle, the self-appointed actor extraordinaire of the piece. Broadway.com recently caught up with the gifted West End newbie to talk take-overs and, um, posing nude. I first saw you in director Ed Hall’s all-male Propeller company, performing Henry V and The Winter’s Tale in repertory. What was that like? Insane! There we were 12 or 14 guys touring the world in Shakespeare, and I was the youngest. We were a very, very cohesive group to the extent that we trained with the British military for five weeks. So, there we were, piggy-backing one another around Clapham Common [in south London], watched over by Ed, who was there with a newly born child in one hand, a phone in the other and directing us at the same time! What was the most obvious challenge of entering the farcical world of One Man, Two Guvnors? Just to be in something that has this level of actual play in it was an outrageous privilege. Until this job, I had mostly been doing classical, heavyweight texts since leaving drama school [in 2010]. It felt like a real test of my comic ability. You and your predecessor in the role, Daniel Ings, worked together in Manchester last summer in Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth. Yeah, that was cool. He had done a 12-month contract [as Alan], so he had a wealth of experience in the part, and it was very interesting to work with him on something that couldn’t have been more of a polar opposite to our show. When I auditioned for Alan, I had this enormous four-month beard [from Macbeth], so it was about encouraging the people considering me to see the struggling artist beneath the hair. Luckily, they were enormously flexible. Richard Bean’s comedy has become a London mainstay. Were you aware of the show before you became a part of it? I’d seen the original production, just as a regular member of the audience because it was the show to go to, so I experienced its very peak. What was interesting to me is that it’s very traditional in its old-school style of British comedy, with all the pratfalls and slapstick and innuendo, and at the same time it feels completely contemporary. It’s such an infectious piece of work. One Man, Two Guvnors You’re wonderfully natural in a part that, in the wrong hands, can look forced. Do you have acting in your bloodstream? I do actually come from a family of creatives: My dad is a drama teacher, and my mom’s an artist, so I guess it’s in the blood cells. I feel as if I know the world in which Alan moves, since I’ve been marinated in that level of intensity. A human tempest, then? Yes [laughs]. You have to find in Alan this forgivable naivete, but also a lovely energy. And you shouldn’t just laugh at him, you should care about him, too. Everything about Alan is lovably exaggerated, from his swagger to his way of turning his body toward the audience in the most grandiose way. Yes, as a character Alan quickly reaches levels of the absurd [laughs]. At the same time, you have to find a way of making it ring true and not just outlandishly and wildly large, so I try to come at it from a point of extreme earnestness. The thing about Alan is that he reacts extremely to people who offend his poetic soul. If, for instance, someone mocks the concept of love, then he becomes a storm and everyone around him gets wet! You also appeared in a revival of Our Country’s Good, during which you posed nude for Gay Times magazine in the UK. How did that come about? Simple: [director] Max Stafford-Clark dared me, and I called his bluff [laughs]. I thought, “Yeah, let’s take it on and see how we go!” The whole thing was absolutely hilarious, fantastic—and it was for charity, which felt right, as well. So, what was it like to take over as Alan, who must be one of the most wonderfully preening actors ever conceived for the stage? I had friends who took over in the second cast so I was invited to see the play again; I ended up seeing it three times, each time with a different cast. By the time I joined it, I was aware of the show’s DNA and its history and I knew how easy it would be to do a bad impression of what I had seen. That’s when I realized the importance of taking what was there and putting my own stamp on it. Were you worried about what your family might think? I’ve been trying to shock them since I was five, so I think at this point they’re kind of bulletproof! Related Shows View Comments Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 2, 2012last_img read more