The Wolf in Steve’s Clothing


Hey, Sean here.

This edition of Sovereign Startups offers a fresh angle on the Theranos scandal.


The rise and subsequent implosion of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is a saga rich with ambition, hubris, and flagrant fakery.

You may be surprised to learn how slowly this fraud unfolded.

Theranos was founded all the way back in 2003, reaching its peak valuation of $10b in 2013. It wasn’t until John Carreyrou’s 2015 WSJ piece that its practices were called into question publicly.

Even then it took until 2018 for the SEC to officially charge Holmes with massive fraud.

The famous founders many seek to emulate are no strangers to near-death, survival scenarios like the one Holmes found herself in.

Musk, Bezos, and Jobs surely were tempted to stretch the truth to make payroll or secure additional funding while building their own companies.

Is it an innate moral compass that enables great founders to skirt the edge of reality distortion without falling into fraud?

I don’t think it is that simple.

Real the full blog below to learn how all founders can strike a moral balance between ’vision’ and ’hallucination’ when building startups.

Read the full blog on Medium:

The Wolf in Steve’s Clothing

Her device was named the Edison, after one of her heroes. The name is fitting, as Edison himself played equally fast and loose with his own invention propaganda. Edison’s 999 unsuccessful attempts to…

About this Newsletter

Sovereign Startups is a series by Sean Newman Maroni (that’s me) intended to reveal the hidden principles that define complex systems.

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-Sean