“The Elizabeth Holmes Trial Is a Wake-Up Call for Sexism in Tech” (NYT, 9/15/2021) is a delightful intersection between two of the greatest gifts to this weblog, i.e., Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos fame and Ellen Pao. If you need a refresher on Pao-ology, see the following:
- Review of Ellen Pao’s book (see also What should Ellen Pao’s forthcoming book be titled? and Ellen Pao writes something kind of interesting)
- Ellen Pao is a “woman of color”
- Will the New York Times like their own plaintiff as much as they liked Ellen Pao?
- Love for Ellen Pao
- MIT built its own Ellen Pao before the Ivy League did: Gretchen Kalonji
- Global douchebag circuit: Aspen Institute, Ellen Pao, and Buddy Fletcher
- Litigious Minds Think Alike: Divorce litigators react to the Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins lawsuit (Pao could have made $227 million tax-free merely by having sex with her billionaire boss and harvesting via the California child support formula)
- Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins wrap-up
- Ellen Pao case shows how the moral landscape in the U.S. has changed
- What do readers in Silicon Valley make of the Ellen Pao case against Kleiner Perkins?
Let’s see what the glorious Ellen Pao gives us via her platform on the NYT:
When she founded the unconventional blood-testing company Theranos in 2003, I was relieved to see a woman finally benefit from the hyperbole that dominates venture investing, a world I worked in for nine years, total. Why shouldn’t a woman show the same single-minded confidence that her male peers did?
But after it was revealed that Theranos was not transparent when its blood-testing equipment failed…
Holmes’s psychotic belief that she knew something that the PhD chemists at Siemens and Philips didn’t know was “single-minded confidence.” Diluting blood samples and then running them in the European machines because the Silicon Valley geniuses couldn’t make it work yielded incorrect results for patients (just like the European PhDs said it would), but that was only being “no transparent.”
… as Ms. Holmes’s trial for fraud continues in San Jose, Calif., it’s clear that two things can be true. She should be held accountable for her actions as chief executive of Theranos. And it can be sexist to hold her accountable for alleged serious wrongdoing and not hold an array of men accountable for reports of wrongdoing or bad judgment.
This is where I can agree with Pao. David Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner was on the Theranos board and his firm was the chief enabler, according to the excellent book Bad Blood, of the continuing Theranos fraud. Yet he is not being charged with any crime.
Though never charged with crimes, WeWork’s Adam Neumann and Uber’s Travis Kalanick hyped their way into raising over $10 billion for their companies, claiming they would disrupt their stagnant, tired industries.
Remember the accusations of harassment, privacy violations, price gouging, misleading advertising and any of the other dozens of scandals at Uber? How about the genocide incited on Facebook in Myanmar, or its engagement-centric approach that led to the proliferation of anti-vaccination propaganda on the platform? Neither Mr. Kalanick nor Mark Zuckerberg has faced any significant legal consequences.
Meanwhile, a Tesla employee reportedly described part of a Tesla manufacturing plant as a predator zone for women.
Hmm… what is different about a Tesla that you can drive, admittedly at the cost of neighbors thinking that you’re a sanctimonious douchebag, compared to a blood testing machine that doesn’t work? And you could drive that Tesla or take an Uber to an actual functioning cubicle at WeWork where you could distract yourself from the pain of working by posting on Facebook some righteous hatred for the young people who refuse to get vaccinated against a disease that kills 82-year-olds.
This article is a bit of a letdown, but it is great to see these two female-identifying giants on the same page in the newspaper of record.
(What else do Ellen Pao and Elizabeth Holmes have in common? Nobody would ever have heard of Ellen Pao if she hadn’t been having sex with Ajit Nazre, a married junior partner at her Kleiner Perkins office. That was the basis of her story in the courtroom when she was seeking to extract cash from KP. Elizabeth Holmes’s story in the courtroom is that all of her apparently bad actions were a result of having sex with Ramesh Balwani, a guy in her office. Is it too much to ask that the New York Times devote some space to a woman who didn’t have sex with anyone in the office?)