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In our newfound cultural fascination with scammers, Elizabeth Holmes is this spring’s belle of the ball. She’s the subject of a mega-popular crime podcast, Jennifer Lawrence is set to portray her on the big screen, and two competing documentaries about her and her failed startup, Theranos, debut this month. HBO‘s offering, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” by “Going Clear” documentarian Alex Gibney, is a straightforward but entertaining tale that will keep both newcomers and Holmes enthusiasts enthralled.
For those of you who don’t know the Holmes/Theranos basics, a rundown: Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford at 20 to found Theranos, a medical technology start-up based in Silicon Valley that claimed to produce machines that could perform hundreds of tests on one drop of blood. Despite a number of big-time political backers and billions of investment dollars, the company eventually closed last September after an investigation by The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou alleged Theranos had never successfully produced such technology and had, therefore, lied to patients and investors. Holmes and former company president Sunny Balwani are now facing indictments from the federal government, and Holmes has gone from the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire to a reviled fraud, but also equally, a strangely beloved true crime icon for those fascinated with such thing.
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And while “The Inventor” undoubtedly debuts this month in part due to Holmes’s meteoric pop cultural relevance, that relevance is perhaps the doc’s greatest downfall. Obsessive followers of the Theranos saga will likely tune into the doc having read John Carreyrou’s breakout book, “Bad Blood;” listened to ABC’s “The Dropout” podcast; or watched ABC’s documentary of the same name— if not having gluttonously imbibed all three like newborn vampires. It’s hard to tap this story for new information. Gibney is working with...
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