Elizabeth Holmes’ Twitter Account is Still Up And It’s Amazing

Depending on what you’re looking for, Elizabeth Holmes’ Twitter presence has aged like improperly extracted and incorrectly diagnosed blood.

The Theranos CEO hasn’t tweeted since late 2015 but her account, @eholmes2003, is still up and open to the public. It’s an earnest mix of Ted Talk inspirational exhortations and Lean In style corporate feminism. Upon cursory examination, the account seems substance-free and unremarkable. But when considered alongside information gleaned from Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou’s recently published book Bad Blood charting Holmes’ bizarre, deceitful career, it’s a journey into the heart of Silicon Valley’s biggest swindle.

It’s unlikely Holmes tweeted these posts herself. The account is almost certainly the product of a social media team tasked with the goal of presenting Holmes as a mix of Marie Curie and Steve Jobs. It’s now clear that that carefully crafted public image was nothing more than an image. Unlike Curie or Jobs, Holmes never made anything that actually worked. The only truly successful thing Theranos produced was Holmes’ public image. As such, her Twitter account offers an invaluable public record.

In light of the public flame-out of Theranos, seeing Holmes’ account retweet a picture of her with the quote “the minute that you have a backup plan, you’ve admitted that you’re not going to succeed” is a moment of grand irony. Throughout Bad Blood, Carreyrou shows that Holmes’ unwillingness to reconsider or accept criticism of her plans led to disastrous consequences. Besides, it’s awful advice for almost any conceivable situation.

Again, the irony is as grand as a gilded age ballroom. Holmes is right. Details do indeed matter, including trifling-seeming details like whether your blood-testing machine accurately tests blood.

This is one example among dozens of how eager journalists were to suck up to Holmes. She’s a media punching bag now but we can’t forget how readily major media platforms bought into her transparent con job.

Holmes’ Twitter account has many pictures with the Clintons (her public image was strategically situated in the shaded part of the Clinton’s Venn diagram of wealthy, vaguely progressive and future tech) but this shot with John McCain is cool because it shows that her ability to swindle powerful people transcends party lines. Also, the Theranos machines debuted in Walgreens stores in Arizona, so the first victims of Theranos’ faulty equipment were McCain’s constituents. Yet another illustration that powerful people will choose celebrities over people at every opportunity.

No, sorry, this is not what an engineer looks like, assuming this is a picture of Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes never engineered anything in her life aside from massive fraud. Theranos’ technology didn’t work and Holmes didn’t build the machines. When her employees saw her name on patents they were horrified. Her shallow girls-in-STEM cheerleading is deeply cynical and potentially harmful for earnest attempts to get more women involved with science. Also, it’s telling that Holmes is on an plane in the photo, as it hints of her jet-setting privileged background which, as the New York Times noted, was the “ace up her sleeve” for getting investors on board.

First, Margaret Thatcher was a monster. Secondly, she probably never said this. I’m loathe to cite a wiki as a source but Wikiquote seems to be the sole venue interested in whether the quote was real; they noted there’s no record of Thatcher uttering this sequence of words.