- Mike Blake/Reuters; Kimberly White/Reuters
- Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes has long been obsessed with late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
- Her Jobs obsessions ruled everything from clothing choices to management techniques to the car she rode in.
- Wall Street Journal writer John Carreyrou details all the ways Holmes tried to emulate Jobs in his book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.”
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes had a Steve Jobs obsession and it permeated every aspect of her life, from wardrobe choices to the way she ran Theranos.
In his new book, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou details the rise and fall of blood-testing startup Theranos, and its charismatic founder, Elizabeth Holmes.
A recurring theme throughout the book is how Holmes drew inspiration from the late Apple CEO. So much so, in fact, that Holmes seemingly began to consider herself the female version of Jobs, and seemed to feel a personal connection to him.
Here are some of the ways Holmes tried to emulate Jobs:
- Holmes adopted his signature style of a black turtleneck at the urging of a former Apple employee
- Holmes frequently referred to Theranos’ blood-testing systems as “the iPod of healthcare” and nicknamed one of the systems the 4s, an obvious reference to the iPhone
- When Theranos was ready to start designing its website, Holmes chose advertising agency ChiatDay, because it was the same company Apple had used for some of its iconic ads
- As Holmes’ star began to rise, she hired a security detail to drive her around in a black Audi sedan with no license plates. Steve Jobs used to lease a new Mercedes every six months to avoid having plates as well
- Holmes started borrowing the management techniques described in Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography. Theranos employees said they “could pinpoint which chapter she was on based on which period of Jobs’s career she was impersonating.”
And here’s how Carreyrou described the day Jobs died in October 2011 (emphasis ours):
“Elizabeth and Sunny [Balwani, Holmes’ boyfriend and No. 2 at Theranos] wanted to pay Jobs a tribute by flying an Apple flag at half-mast on the grounds of the Hillview Avenue building. The next morning, Jeff Blickman, a tall redhead who’d played varsity baseball at Duke, volunteered for the mission. He couldn’t locate any suitable Apple flag for sale, so Blickman had one custom made out of vinyl. It featured the famous Apple logo in white against a black background. The store he went to took a while to make it. Blickman didn’t return until late in the day. In the meantime, work at the company came to a standstill as Elizabeth and Sunny moped around the office, consumed by the hunt for the Apple flag.“