In case you’ve missed, it, Theranos (the blood-testing company whose secretive technology has been taking some major blows over the last few months) has reached yet another unwelcome stage in its troubles. First you have people expressing doubts about the company’s product, then you have worries about their customers defecting, then you have regulatory problems (with the FDA breathing down your neck).
All of this is very bad. But now things have reached what may be the worst stage: the company is the subject of a criminal investigation about whether it misled investors. I’ll bet some of them certainly feel misled by this point, but the question is whether they did that to themselves, or whether the company helped them along a bit. Here, see how appealing this sounds:
People familiar with the matter said the subpoenas seek broad information about how Theranos described its technologies and the progress it was making developing those technologies.
Investigators are also examining whether Theranos misled government officials, which can be a crime under federal law, some of the people said. . .
Right. The SEC is also investigating the company’s statements while seeking funding, and no one can be happy about that, either. “We welcome the investigation” is not a phrase that any CEO wants to be practicing – if you go much further along that path, your next lines to memorize are going to start off with “On the advice of counsel, I must respectfully decline to answer on the grounds. . .”
A few questions: where exactly was the company’s illustrious and high-powered board of directors while all this was going on? What are the chances that Theranos can recover from this collapse? And how long will it be before investors line up again to throw sackfuls of money at a 19-year-old with a big biomedical idea? (This guy doesn’t count, and anyway, he’s not doing anything medical, insofar as you can figure out what’s going on at all). My guess is that one of the many ways in which medicine and drug discovery are not like Silicon Valley businesses is that there are few (if any) wunderkinder able to turn the world upside down. If you’d like to believe that there are, you run the risk of investing in the next Theranos, so be warned.