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Theranos, the Hot Biotech Startup, Has a Huge Credibility Problem

Questions arise over whether the blood testing technology actually works.

Lisa Lake / Getty Images

The $9 billion Silicon Valley biotech startup Theranos received a slew of positive press since unveiling its products to the public two years ago, following a decade of working in secret. The company purports to have developed a way to obtain quick blood test results based on only a tiny sample drawn at a local “wellness center” from the prick of a needle, no doctor visit or painful syringe stab required.

According to Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, her technology amounts to nothing less than a health-care revolution: A disruptive and lifesaving innovation that delivers cheaper, earlier and less painful results.

But Theranos and Holmes have also been surrounded by a dark cloud of suspicion. Critics have asked for proof that the company’s technology actually works, and that its results are accurate. Holmes — the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire at 31 — and her PR team have mainly responded by citing intellectual property concerns and suggesting that the seeds of doubt have been sown by incumbent laboratory companies such as Quest and Laboratory Corporation.

That’s the context for today’s explosive Wall Street Journal investigation of Theranos.

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