Theranos, which Elizabeth Holmes founded soon after dropping out of Stanford University when she was still a teenager, was at one point valued at $9 billion. Holmes was also compared to the likes of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. In fact, Forbes Magazine tagged her as ‘the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire’ and she featured in Time Magazine’s coveted list of the most influential people in 2015.
But Theranos grew on fraud. According to prosecutors, Holmes knew Edison was a sham, but she continued to raise money from renowned investors like Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison. Meanwhile, her company secretly used commercially available machines to run tests even as its own technology proved to be a failure.
This not only puts Holmes’ integrity into question, but also makes us wonder how far people will go to make money. According to recent research, people doubled the number of lies they told in order to earn extra cash. The research also found that a business mindset was more closely linked to unethical intentions and behaviours than feelings related to power, competition or simply looking out for oneself. According to Kristen Smith-Crowe, associate professor of management at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, USA, “Our moral behaviour may be affected by things in the environment that we have no idea are affecting us.”
Where do you draw the line when it comes to moral behaviour versus personal benefit?
REFLECTION: Track the Technology
Do some research online to understand the technology Theranos claimed to have developed.