This week is the start of the US vs. Elizabeth Holmes trial, what Esquire Digital's Chief Legal Analyst, Aron Solomon considers “arguably the most intriguing legal case for the media since the O.J. Simpson.”
In his new Esquire Digital feature, Solomon details how this case raises a number of unique questions about law, technology, manufacturing claims and the people behind innovations. Interesting stuff.
We wanted to explore the manufacturing side a bit more, so we chatted with the analyst. Take a look…
Smart Industry: How does digitalization affect the Theranos story / this trial? What modern technologies (or falsified technologies) are central to this story?
Aron: To me, the technology isn't the most compelling part of the Theranos story, it's how the people interacted with the tech. And this will ultimately be the most important issue in the Elizabeth Holmes trial. If she honestly believed that the Theranos technology—including but not limited to Edison—would eventually work, it's going to be extremely hard for the prosecution to prove intent on many of the counts. If, conversely, she knew that the tech would never work, then the prosecution has a significantly less steep path.
Smart Industry: What can manufacturers learn from Holmes’ missteps? What about those who purchase equipment?
Aron: Be careful. Be careful about what claims are being made about the technology as it works today. Aspirations are great and they're part of the foundation of entrepreneurship, but anyone involved in the manufacturing and supply chain should be extra wary of being on the wrong side of a news cycle where tech doesn't do what founders claim it does.
Smart Industry: Will buyers / investors become more critical of claims moving forward?
Aaron: Doubtful, really. Investors swing for the fences because that's how the game is structured. And just like you can't teach brilliant young entrepreneurs a thing (nor should you try), the vast majority of VCs think they know everything. So pretty egregious mistakes will continue to be made and we will see more Theranoses/Theranii in the future because they are built into the overall cost of doing business.
Smart Industry: How will this court case turn out?
Aron: No idea. I think the prosecution is going to hit a few brick walls with co-defendant Elizabeth Holmes. Her trial will be significantly harder for them than the Sunny Balwani trial in January. Holmes is going to be an active and maybe even persuasive force in her own defense, with claims of abuse at the literal hands of Balwani. Proving intent to defraud here is going to be even harder than the prosecution imagines.
Smart Industry: What's the most interesting element of this story?
Aron: Legally, it's going to be how well the prosecution proves intent—I don't hold out a ton of hope they're going to hit this piece out of the park. From the human angle…all of it, really. The is the best made-for-TV legal drama since the O.J. Simpson trial close to 30 years ago. This is on-air gold. What's not to like from a dramatic perspective?