Is this a bad time to announce the launch of my revolutionary blood-testing company?
Because it feels like it might be a bad time.
We’re in the midst of a tremendous societal upheaval.
The Great Resignation, they’re calling it: a moment where workers all across America and all over the world are quitting their jobs or even changing careers. After struggling through the difficulties of working during a global pandemic, many people have decided that it’s the perfect time for them to make a change in their life.
This might mean taking a lower-paying job in order to spend more time with family, or leaving in-person work for permanent work-from-home status. For others, this moment is a chance to finally pursue their great passion—to do meaningful work, to chase an artistic dream, or to finally start a business they’ve long dreamed about.
Me? I’m finally following my childhood dream: I’m launching a revolutionary blood-testing company, one that will be able to screen for hundreds of ailments using only a small finger-prick’s worth of blood.
I know it sounds like a pie-in-the-sky dream, but it’s one I believe in, and one I believe can be a huge success.
Of course, I’m sure you have some questions, and I’m happy to answer as many of them as I can. Fire away!
Uh, this sure sounds a lot like Theranos.
I don’t know what that is.
The bad guy from the Avengers movies?
No, the revolutionary blood-testing company founded in 2003 by Stanford student Elizabeth Holmes, one that became a Silicon Valley darling and raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors on promises that their technology could screen for hundreds of ailments using only a small finger-prick’s worth of blood, but was eventually exposed as a massive fraud, leading to Holmes’ conviction on multiple federal charges earlier this week?
Never heard of it.
Surely you have.
I’ve been busy founding this company.
Okay. Fine. Tell us about the company.
It’s called Diagapy—that’s a portmanteau of the words “diagnosis” and “therapy”, which are the two key things that we hope to—
That’s literally how they came up with the name “Theranos”. Like, exactly the same.
Listen, I don’t read comic books, I’m sure the movies are very good, but I wish you’d just let me explain my technology.
[sigh] Whatever. Tell me what your technology does.
Okay, so first? We just take a little drop of blood from your fingertip—
Ow! You need to tell me before you do that.
—and then we run it through our revolutionary laboratory machine. In less than 15 minutes, we can tell everything about you. We can run over 200 diagnostic tests—we screen for heart disease, cancer, rare genetic disorders, but much more than that.
More than that?
We can test for vibes.
Sure. We can tell you if your whole vibe is off. It’s important that people know, and most people with bad vibes don’t find out until it’s far too late to fix them. We can tell you your lucky numbers. We can tell if you’re a spring or an autumn. A Carrie or a Miranda. A Hufflepuff or a Ravenclaw. We can tell what you’re hungry for for dinner.
No you can’t.
Oh dang that does sound good.
If you have a song stuck in your head, not only can our test tell exactly what song it is, we can get it un-stuck from your head.
No, we just play a different catchy song. It’s usually “Walkin’ on Sunshine”, unless that’s the one that was already stuck in your head.
In that case, we use “Walkin’ In Memphis.”
What makes you think that there’s a market for this?
We’ve done extensive market research and trend analysis, and we’ve seen a massive spike in searches for the word “testing” in the last 21 months.
That’s because of COVID-19.
Because of what?
The novel coronavirus.
I mostly read non-fiction.
We’ve also seen a huge spike in the words “blood testing” just this week.
That’s because of Theranos.
I thought he died in the last movie.
I thought you said you didn’t watch those movies.
Do you have investors lined up yet?
We do! We’ve assembled hundreds of millions of dollars in capital from a mixture of credulous Silicon Valley types, aging politicians and risk-taking retail investors. It’s remarkably easy, to be honest. If you send a picture of a monkey to the right person, they’ll hand over their mortgage payment.
Be honest, now. Are you defrauding these people?
No, we really do send the monkey picture. They love it.
So, does your machine actually work?
My what now?
Your machine. The diagnostic equipment that you’ve based all of your fundraising on.
Oh! Did I mention that we can test for “it”?
It! That undefinable quality that an old-timey movie director has been looking for for ages and hasn’t been able to find despite extensive open casting calls, but one that’s critical to the success of their motion picture! We can test for “it”.
Do I have “it”?
No. I’m sorry, you’re just not what we’re looking for. We’ll keep your headshot on file though.
Listen, I think it’s clear what’s happening here. You’ve recognized that the American public—and especially the Silicon Valley investing community—loves a well-told fiction. Pie-in-the-sky promises don’t have to be backed up with evidence, because it’s more fun to imagine that they might be real even when anyone with a shred of common sense can tell that they’re not. Theranos exploited this credulity to defraud investors of hundreds of millions of dollars, but beyond that, they defrauded patients—the little guy like you and me, people who should have been able to trust that the medical tests they were getting were accurate. It’s fun to joke about Theranos, but—
What was that?
Ah, your test results are ready.
Did you just put my blood in the microwave?
No, no that’s our prototype countertop machine, the Edison.
That’s what Theranos called theirs, too, you know.
[ignoring that, looking at printout and shaking head softly] I’m so sorry.
What… what is it?
I’m afraid your vibe is just terrible.
—Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)
"Sir, you have terminal vibes."
NFT = Nice Fraud, Theranos