‘Americans have a fascination with fraudsters’: Alex Gibney on the fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes

The Oscar-winning director presents a sympathetic portrait of the Silicon Valley CEO who fooled the world into believing she had built a better blood test

We can’t get enough of Elizabeth Holmes. The founder and CEO of Theranos once captivated the imaginations of venture capitalists and magazine profile writers with her too-good-to-be-true tale of a revolutionary blood testing technology. Three years, numerous federal investigations, and eleven felony counts later, our appetite has shifted to devouring the tale of how Holmes fooled the world. The Silicon Valley morality tale – a true crime saga with a dash of Fyre Fest-schadenfreude and the added bonus of an icy blonde with a mysteriously deep voice – has thus far inspired a best-selling book, a popular podcast, and two documentaries, with a feature film and real-life criminal trial still to come.

One of the documentaries, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, debuts Monday on HBO. The film, by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, presents a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Holmes as a modern-day Thomas Edison-gone-wrong. The Wizard of Menlo Park, Gibney reminds us, was a master of “faking it until you make it” who raised money off a promise long before he figured out how to make the incandescent light bulb work. Of course, Edison eventually came through, while Holmes is facing up to 20 years in prison, and her company was forced to void tens of thousands of blood tests for patients in Arizona.

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‘Americans have a fascination with fraudsters’: Alex Gibney on the fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes

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