Theranos is a unicorn that may soon be sent to the glue factory. The biotech start-up was once the toast of Silicon Valley. Its signature technology — a blood-testing machine so sensitive it requires a mere pinprick of blood to make accurate diagnoses — attracted a $9 billion valuation. The company’s 31-year-old CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, was celebrated in a thousand admiring profiles and made headline appearances at prestigious conferences like, for example, the Clinton Foundation’s 2015 “Health Matters” summit. And then, last October, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the company’s breakthrough technology doesn’t actually work.
In recent days, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that the company’s lab in Newark, California, was in violation of five federal regulations, thereby posing “immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety.” Last week, the release of that investigation’s full report revealed that “quality control issues” may have compromised the blood-test results of 81 patients.
These revelations have cost Theranos many investors, commercial partners, and board members — among them Henry Kissinger, ex-secretary of State George P. Schultz, and former U.S senator Sam Nunn. But for god knows what reason, it hasn’t cost the company the chance to host a fund-raiser for the Democratic front-runner. Next week, Chelsea Clinton will join Holmes at Theranos’s Palo Alto headquarters to help raise money for her mother’s campaign. According to an email obtained by Re/code, the event will be held next Monday night and will cost most attendees $2,700 a head.
One of Clinton’s primary liabilities in her race against Bernie Sanders is the perception that she is overly friendly with corrupt corporate interests. So it’s pretty bizarre that she has decided to have a (reportedly) corrupt corporation host her next big fund-raiser. And it’s only one of several unforced errors the campaign has made since last Friday.