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There’s a lot, and we mean a lot, to unpack in the new HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley: How Silicon Valley, Walgreens, and the medical industry, were duped for so long, Elizabeth Holmes’ fascination with Steve Jobs, her apparently fake deep voice that she used in interviews. But even with so much to talk about, people have seized on one small part of the film that’s just as baffling as anything Holmes tried to pull off, maybe more so. It’s investor Tim Draper in a purple Bitcoin tie.
For those unfamiliar with the whole story, here’s a very brief overview. In 2003, 19-year-old Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford University to found Theranos, a medical technology company that made the bold, and it turns out false, claim that it could test for over 240 diseases with just a few drops of blood. At its peak, around 2014, the company was worth an estimated $9 billion dollars. All that changed in 2015 when The Wall Street Journal published an article questioning the validity of these claims. Once people started taking a closer look at the company, things quickly fell apart. On June 15, 2018, the Northern District Court of California indicted Holmes on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. Theranos ceased operations in August of that year and has since been liquidated.
HBO isn’t the first to take a more in-depth look at Holmes and her bogus company. There have been countless articles, books, and a podcast on the subject, and there’s even an upcoming feature-length film that will reportedly star Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes.
But The Inventor gave us something we couldn’t get from a book or podcast (although something we dearly hope is in that Jennifer Lawrence movie): a man extolling Theranos’ virtues while wearing a purple tie covered in Bitcoin logos. It’s weird, it’s fascinating, and, just like Holmes, he thought he could pull it off.
Highlight of Elizabeth Holmes doc so far is Bitcoin tie guy pic.twitter.com/ZlCPCbRKej— How Soon Is Spring Cully (@cjhynes09) March 19, 2019
So what you're telling me is that this guy in the purple Bitcoin tie invested in Theranos without understanding what Theranos actually did? pic.twitter.com/RlzRdDNc85— eric (@KengJuan) March 19, 2019
This, by the way, isn’t the first time the bitcoin tie has made waves. People took note of Draper’s odd fashion statement last year when he wore it on Fox News during an interview with Tucker Carlson.
Then, as now, people found the tie to be… questionable at best.
Draper invested $500,000 in Theranos when the company first started, which probably sounds like a lot to most people, but with a reported net worth of $1 billion dollars, we’re guessing he’ll be fine… as long as he rethinks his wardrobe.
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.