People are worried about unicorns.
There was a time when my big question about the Theranos story was, is it a revolutionary company with a great technology that is being unfairly nitpicked, or is it a company whose technology has big serious problems? I am satisfied that that question has been answered. Now my big question is, is this a story of smart well-meaning people who are working on a great idea to change the world and who got a bit over their skis, or is it something darker? It is silly, so late in the game, to fixate on one Theranos detail and say “that’s weird,” but here is a story about Theranos’s relationship with Walgreens, and this is really weird:
While Theranos didn’t provide a device to Hopkins, Walgreens got a prototype, and members of Dr. Rosan’s team set it up in a cubicle.
The prototype came with kits to perform esoteric tests that other labs and test makers apparently didn’t offer, producing results such as “low” and “high” rather than numeric values.
As a result, Walgreens couldn’t compare results from the Theranos machine to any commercially available tests.
I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to think of an innocent explanation for that.
Elsewhere, here is a breakdown of who gets venture capital funding (mostly men, a lot of Stanford grads, also a lot of college dropouts). And here is a unicorn being barbecued in what looks like a medieval manuscript that I will just assume prophesies the coming of Theranos. “And lo, a Unicorne shall come among ye, and ye shall call it by the name Theranos, or in the Old Tongues, Elasmotherium Haimatos. And it shall take your Bloode, but only a lyttle bit of your Bloode, and it shall do strange Magick upon said Bloode, and tell ye many Things. But then it shall come to pass that its Magick was [makes ‘so-so’ hand gesture], and that those Things were mostly not true. And ye shall barbecue that Unicorne.” (via Bloomberg)