Elizabeth Holmes, left to her own devices

Critics are flaming the New York Times today for posting what they say is an overly empathetic 5,500-word profile of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes earlier this morning. But writer Amy Chozick is in on the con. In fact, her story may provide the  clearest understanding yet of how Holmes so captivated investors, business partners, and the U.S. media, before the Wall Street Journal finally blew the lid on her company beginning in late 2015.


It’s not an easy thing to pull off. First, as any reporter can tell you, writing a profile piece that does not feature some degree of puffery is not easy, and profiling someone like Holmes has to be more complicated than most. She hasn’t talked to the media since 2016, and she is a highly persuasive character who managed to make many powerful people bend to her will.

As former Theranos employee and whistleblower Tyler Shultz told CBS News early last year of Holmes, “Elizabeth is a very, very charismatic person. When she speaks to you, she makes you feel like you are the most important person in her world in that moment. She almost has this reality distortion field around her that people can just get sucked into.”

While Chozick might have written a heavier-handed story — one that people who reflexively read the story might have preferred — the brilliance of this piece is that she takes the opposite approach. She lets Holmes perform her magic but offers a peek behind the curtain as Holmes does it.

Holmes pulls a lot out of her hat. Chozick spends time with not only Holmes, her romantic partner, Billy Evans, and their two children, but also Holmes’s parents and others in Holmes’s orbit. Holmes and Evans take Chozick to the beach with their dog, Teddy. They invite her to join them for Mexican food at their quaint rental home on the Pacific coast. They visit the San Diego Zoo together and, in a separate meeting, have croissants and berries and coffee made by Evans. Chozick doesn’t need to mention each of these outings discretely, but by doing so, she let us witness Holmes’s subtle charm campaign as if we were there with her.

Holmes — whose prison sentence was recently delayed — grows so confident in Chozick’s presence that she even imagines inventing another Theranos. “I still dream about being able to contribute in that space,” Holmes tells her. “I still feel the same calling to it as I always did and I still think the need is there.”

The campaign almost works. “I realized that I was essentially writing a story about two different people,” Chozick writes. ”There was Elizabeth, celebrated in the media as a rock-star inventor whose brilliance dazzled illustrious rich men, and whose criminal trial captivated the world. Then there is ‘Liz,’ (as Mr. Evans and her friends call her), the mom of two who, for the past year, has been volunteering for a rape crisis hotline. Who can’t stomach R-rated movies and who rushed after me one afternoon with a paper towel to wipe a mix of sand and her dog’s slobber off my shoe.”

The writer is so dazzled by “Liz” and finds her so “normal” that her editors have to snap her out of her trance, after which she begins to see the picture more clearly.

Writes Chozick, “I was admittedly swept up in Liz as an authentic and sympathetic person. She’s gentle and charismatic, in a quiet way. My editor laughed at me when I shared these impressions, telling me (and I quote), ‘Amy Chozick, you got rolled!’”

Initially, she doubts her editor, saying she is certain she has come to know Holmes in a way that might surprise readers. But then, she adds, “something very strange happened. I worked my way through a list of Ms. Holmes’s friends, family and longtime supporters, whom she and Mr. Evans suggested I speak to. One of these friends said Ms. Holmes had genuine intentions at Theranos and didn’t deserve a lengthy prison sentence. Then, this person requested anonymity to caution me not to believe everything Ms. Holmes says.”

At another point, Chozick is again understated about seeing behind the artifice, writing, “Ms. Holmes’s story of how she got here — to the bright, cozy house and the supportive partner and the two babies — feels a lot like the story of someone who had finally broken out of a cult and been deprogrammed. After her relationship with Mr. Balwani ended and Theranos dissolved, Ms. Holmes said, ‘I began my life again.’ But then I remember that Ms. Holmes was running the cult.”

As the story ends, Chozick deliberately marvels at how much more time Holmes and Evans want to spend with her, inviting her to join them and their friends for yet another dinner, asking if she would like to come back for another date to the zoo with her own family. “I appreciated their hospitality,” she writes, “but I didn’t fully understand it. Usually interview subjects can’t wait to get rid of me.”

Then Chozick realizes why they “keep opening the door wider.” If “you are in her presence, it is impossible not to believe her, not to be taken with her and be taken in by her.”

The observation brings to mind something else Shultz said about his time at Theranos in that interview with CBS News last year. “Even when I was working with the product every single day, seeing it fail time after time after time,” he’d said, “I could go and have a five-minute conversation with Elizabeth and feel like I was saving the world again.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Gary Vaynerchuk: NFTs will go beyond being just collectibles

Welcome back to Chain Reaction, a podcast that unpacks and dives deep into the latest trends, drama and news with some of the biggest names in crypto breaking things down block by block for the crypto curious. For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk, better known as Gary Vee. He is the chairman of […]

Read More

Tesla says all new Model 3s now qualify for full $7,500 tax credit

ADVERTISEMENT All new Tesla Model 3 vehicles will now qualify for the full $7,500 federal EV tax credit, according to a change in Tesla’s website. The EV tax credits were mandated by Congress last August as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, with the goal of ending U.S. reliance on China for batteries. The full $7,500 […]

Read More

T. Rowe Price has marked down its stake in Canva by 67.6%

Last summer, Blackbird, one of Australia’s largest venture operations, marked down the value of one of its most prized stakes, in the Sydney-based design platform Canva. Valued at $40 billion by investors in a $200 million round in the fall of 2021, Blackbird adjusted its own valuation of the company 36% to $25.6 billion. Now, […]

Read More
ankara escort çankaya escort çankaya escort escort bayan çankaya istanbul rus escort eryaman escort ankara escort kızılay escort istanbul escort ankara escort ankara escort escort ankara istanbul rus Escort atasehir Escort beylikduzu Escort Ankara Escort malatya Escort kuşadası Escort gaziantep Escort izmir Escort