The fraud conviction of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes could do more than just send a once-celebrated ex-billionaire to prison. In theory, it could also deliver a sobering message to a Silicon Valley culture that often gets lost in its own hubris and swagger.
Will it? Don’t hold your breath.
For that change to happen, entrepreneurs would have to dial down their own hype, which could mean losing potential investors to louder startups with fewer qualms. Meanwhile, venture capitalists and other startup investors — always on the lookout for the next big windfall — would need to get a lot more skeptical about the ambitious pitches they’re hearing, despite the Valley’s decades-long habit of throwing money at a variety of sketchy startup ideas. Most fail, but the rare successes can more than make up for a passel of losers.
“I think it will generate some more caution among entrepreneurs, but for the most part, human nature being what it is, there is still going to be a tendency to exaggerate, especially when you know you might not get funded if you don’t,” said Richard Greenfield, a lawyer who represents investors in startups.
“And I don’t think it will change many investors’ attitudes,” he added. “People are still going to want to reach for the moon.”
Holmes got slapped down hard for going overboard with her relentless sa
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