A Wall Street Journal report published Thursday suggests Theranos, the $10 billion health startup that says its blood tests can be done quickly using a single drop, has a few problems.
In a follow-up article published later Thursday evening, the Journal reported that the company had stopped using its signature finger-prick blood test on all but one of its more than 240 blood tests.
The company, which is unlike any other, also has a board whose makeup is unlike that of most other health companies. Its members are:
- George P. Shultz—former U.S. secretary of state
- Gary Roughead—retired U.S. Navy admiral
- William J. Perry—former U.S. secretary of defense
- Sam Nunn—former U.S. senator who served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
- James N. Mattis—retired U.S. Marine Corps general
- Richard Kovacevich—former CEO of Wells Fargo
- Henry A. Kissinger—former U.S. secretary of state
- William H. Frist—heart and lung transplant surgeon and former US senator
- William H. Foege—former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Riley P. Bechtel—chairman of the board of the Bechtel Group Inc., a construction company
- Sunny Balwani—president and COO of Theranos
- Elizabeth Holmes—CEO and chairman of the board of Theranos
To make sure we got all that: that's six former government officials, two former military leaders, two corporation leaders, two members of Theranos' leadership, and two men who graduated from medical school. As my colleague Kevin Loria writes over at Tech Insider:
"The caliber of the board suggests that Theranos must have developed a transformative innovation, but other than Frist, who has not practiced medicine in many years, only Foege is a medical professional."
This isn't the norm.
Take Quest Diagnostics, one of Theranos' big competitors: Its board is filled with leaders in health insurance and pharmaceuticals like former Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Vicky B. Gregg and Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeffrey M. Leiden. Or the pharmaceutical giant Merck, whose board is filled with leaders in the medical and academic world, like Thomas R. Cech, a University of Colorado professor of biochemistry, and Paul B. Rothman, dean of medical faculty and vice president for medicine at Johns Hopkins University, along with a smattering of corporate leaders.
We are about to see whether this powerhouse board can help Theranos navigate the controversy surrounding these inquiries into its signature test.