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Film / The Inventor Out For Blood In Silicon Valley

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The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is a 2019 documentary about the entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, who claimed to have invented a revolutionary blood-analysis machine and was eventually revealed to be a fraud.

Contains examples of:

  • Accidental Aesop: Holmes says that, as a child, she read Moby Dick to learn about how great leaders lead. And, well, she sure does internalize that model of leadership. The only problem is that Ahab, the captain of the ship in that book, is a narcissistic madman who not only fails in his mission but gets himself and his whole crew killed.
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  • Becoming the Boast: A short segment on Thomas Edison focused on how he initially lied about being able to create an incandescent light bulb for months. He only succeeded shortly before his financial backers would finally demand to see the finished product. Edison's actions and success would set up Silicon Valley's "fake it till you make it" culture.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: The reason so many people buy into Elizabeth Holmes' belief that she can change the world is that she seems to believe she can change the world. Her refusal to acknowledge the mechanical flaws in her machines makes it difficult to prove that she intentionally lied at various points.
  • Broken Ace: Holmes is a brilliant, fearless entrepreneur who conquers male-dominated Silicon Valley and has the backing of people like former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. She's also amoral and absolutely insane.
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  • Broken Pedestal: Many of Holmes's supporters and employees believe very deeply in her work, at the beginning at least.
  • Con Man: The technology just plain doesn't work, and Holmes is covering that up from everybody.
  • Contralto of Danger: Many viewers have commented on Holmes' unusually deep speaking voice.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Discussed. One of the former Theranos employees believes that the company's rise and fall began with one little lie that snowballed into a mess. Dr. Ariely compares it to a research project that proved people were more likely to cheat (or fudge the medical test results) when they believe its for charity. Emphasis on believe.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Theranos lawyers threaten to sue Tyler and Carryrou from the Wall Street Journal for "leaking trade secrets." Carreyrou is quick to question if that applies when Tyler has revealed that most of the Theranos tests are done by third party materials, not Theranos tech.
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  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Holmes and her company cozies up to people like George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Joe Biden, and various other people with big political connections, likely in the aim of bypassing FDA regulations that would prove their testing doesn't work.
  • Stepford Smiler
  • So Proud of You: It takes George Shultz years to believe his grandson Tyler's insistence that Holmes' speeches don't match the hard data collection. Once he's realized he backed Theranos over his family, he praises Tyler for sticking to his morals in the face of such overwhelming pressure.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Fyre, another documentary about an unhinged entrepreneur destroying people's lives through fraud.
  • The Unblinking: The receptionist of Theranos commented that Holmes' intense, unblinking gaze was the first thing that she noticed about her.
  • Unfortunate Names: Theranos was named as a Portmanteau of Therapy and Diagnosis. It also, appropriately, sounds a lot like the greek words for tyrant and death: tyrannos and thanatos.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Any employee who questions Holmes or the company.
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