[최동미 칼럼] The end of the scam seen through the movie ‘Dropout’… “Why were they deceived?”

Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes in the movie Dropout [사진=AP통신]

Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes was convicted earlier this year on four counts, including fraud, and is awaiting a final sentence in September this year. A unicorn company with an enterprise value of 10 trillion won. Why did this happen?

From an early age, Elizabeth Holmes had an ambition to make a fortune with the products she invented. She was accepted to Stanford University on a Presidential Scholarship, and she dropped out of her school after two years to start her own business.

This is reminiscent of the founding story of global IT company CEOs Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

This young woman, who had no expertise in chemistry, persuaded professors and researchers at Stanford University to start a diagnostic device, suggesting a vision that “everyone can have a blood test at an affordable price and in a convenient way so that they can live a safe life from disease” Up ‘Theranos’ is established.

The schedule for a product demonstration with a famous global pharmaceutical company is difficult, and CEO Holmes arrives in Switzerland with his employees carrying an error-prone prototype diagnostic device. Eventually, she manipulates the results of her prototype operation to make it appear that only a small amount of her blood can diagnose the disease.

Theranos was able to attract millions of dollars in additional investment by demonstrating the fake prototype, which was the decisive moment for the start of the epic.

Holmes falsely fears the world that he has developed a new technology that can diagnose more than 250 diseases with a single drop of blood. Surprisingly, investors who believed in this put her company’s enterprise value at a whopping 10 trillion won and her net worth 5.4 trillion won.

The question that is still being raised in this case is one sentence, “Why, no one has confirmed the authenticity of the new technology?” It makes sense when you look at the board members and major investors at the time. Former Secretary of State, media tycoon, and global IT entrepreneur were the directors and investors of Theranos.

who would have suspected Famous business magazines around the world decorated the cover with her face and praised her as a CEO who would change the world by developing a new technology that was not in the world.

Dongmi Choi Senior Researcher
Dongmi Choi Senior Researcher

Celebrities who had seen and heard of her somewhere at least once were deceived by her beauty and excellent speech, which caused her reputation to be tarnished and a huge financial loss.

Holmes promoted the company by always wearing a black turtleneck in imitation of Steve Jobs, with dyed blonde hair reminiscent of a successful female CEO.

Although it was a bio-venture company, the company was managed by borrowing the image of a Silicon Valley IT company, as you can feel from the inside and outside of the company.

In addition, illegal and anti-human means were used in management to package this intangible company as a unicorn company.

Her vague vision, lacking in morals, led to the collapse of the company. It has also caused many people to lose their jobs. If the Theranos lab had been properly inspected and inspected just once before making an investment and partnership decision based solely on the names of the board of directors or existing investors, they would not have been caught in this scam.

The greed of people who read in the direction they want to believe and see the way they want to believe has ultimately led to such a catastrophe.

Fortunately, honest people who took the risk and a conscientious press eventually revealed the truth. It is worrying and regrettable that honest startups that are running their business properly will not be able to receive investment due to these scams. This is how I felt after watching this series.

“Don’t be fooled by your words. Be sure to check the reality of the company before investing.”

Written by: Dongmi Choi / Senior Researcher / Chungbuk Center for Creative Economy and Innovation

* Based on the experience of overall operation of the startup incubation program, Dongmi Choi, currently working as a startup accelerator, is in charge of investment linkage and PR for technology startup startups.

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