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Sprinkles from the Left

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.60 minutes to read.

“Raising money to start a company is about two things: having connections and making an appearance. Connections are difficult to make when you’re a woman: “Only about 12% of decision-makers at VC firms are women, and most firms still don’t have a single female partner”…

And even if you have connections, building relationships can be a bit weird: My cofounders end up being text buddies with our investors, while I hear news of things in passing… Furthermore, investors generally have expectations that are aligned with male tendencies. For example, identical slides and scripts that are read by men and women are judged very differently, with men overwhelmingly rated higher. Holmes’ deep voice, although off-putting, probably made her more convincing.

I am absolutely no “holmie,” but I do understand firsthand her need to role-play. I’ve been overlooked; hell, I’ve even been told to change my product line (bras) because venture capitalists won’t get it. And they didn’t. I gave in.

I don’t want to defend her, and I can’t. It’s so easy to drop a line at a party or a board meeting about how obnoxious she was in her venture, but what irks me is that we focus on her specifically as the problem, completely bypassing the environment that created her.”

Beth Esponnette, co-founder and executive chair of Unspun (published in TechCrunch)

“Holmes is the quintessential American antihero. From the start, American culture has been one where people, as the historian Walter McDougall has put it, pride themselves on being “hustlers,” a culture that has a soft spot for hucksters, spinners of tall tales and snake-oil salesmen who promise miracle cures…

Holmes was one of the most brilliant, and successful, snake-oil peddlers ever… And she did it all on the basis of what was, in retrospect, little more than a cool idea…

How did she get away with it for so long? In part, it’s because Holmes defined Theranos not as a health care company but as a technology company. And making promises that you’re not sure you can deliver on is something technology companies do all the time…

Holmes was well-versed in this history and adept at framing criticisms of Theranos as, paradoxically, evidence that it was on the technological cutting edge and that the doubters simply didn’t understand what she was doing…

In hindsight, we might see a clear line between a fraudster and an honest entrepreneur — between Elizabeth Holmes and Steve Jobs, for example. But in the moment that line is often fuzzier, since even honest entrepreneurs are often at first selling little more than an idea of what they hope to accomplish.”

James Surowiecki, MSNBC

Sprinkles from the Right

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.66 minutes to read.

“Culturally we’re obsessed with a two-year-old scandal: the story of Elizabeth Holmes and her epic sham company Theranos, recently the subjects of a bestselling book, an HBO documentary, a “20/20” special and a hit podcast — plus a forthcoming feature film that may star Jennifer Lawrence…

Part of the allure here is schadenfreude — watching rich, famous, beautiful, greedy people scamming other rich, famous, beautiful people makes for great, glossy television…

And what’s more, they refuse to stop pretending, even as they become tragicomic figures. It’s like watching a morality play-cum-camp performance, and it’s endlessly enjoyable…

Is it any wonder we can’t look away? After all, we’re sliding into a reality where it’s hard to know what’s actually real. Alternative facts, fake news and truthiness are concepts that once seemed laughable; no more. Fake news, in fact, has seeped its way into the lexicon. We are through the looking glass…

We are an increasingly atomized nation, in which everyone may cherry-pick their facts and truths to create their own reality. Ironically, it’s fakes and phonies like Elizabeth Holmes who bestow upon us a great gift: something the majority of us, with a true sense of morality, can agree upon — and a jolt back to reality.”

Maureen Callahan, New York Post

“I recently read the 1967 New Yorker article “Truth and Politics” by Hannah Arendt, and she talks about how lies tear “a hole in the fabric of factuality.” OK, that was a lie. I didn’t read it—the piece is 11,000 words and drier than a California drought. But the fabric line is terrific and explains why trust in government, in social networks and in everyday conversations feels like it couldn’t be lower.

If you lie to others, you are deceitful, but if you lie to yourself, you’re delusional. Which brings me to a study published in May by a group of psychologists titled “Bull— Ability as an Honest Signal of Intelligence.” I knew it! The research shows that “impressing others without regard for truth or meaning” by telling often delusional lies in a satisfying way is “evidence for human intelligence being naturally geared toward the efficient navigation of social systems.” In other words, we can’t help it—lying is part of being human.

Forget Edison and Einstein ; congenital BSers Adam Neumann of WeWork and Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos must be off-the-charts wicked intelligent. Mr. Neumann and Ms. Holmes, by no means role models, deluded others and, if I had to guess, they believed their own BS too. How did they keep it all straight?… I’m in the Mark Twain camp: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” That is no lie.”

Andy Kessler, Wall Street Journal