Faking It? Not Making It.
This is not a post about fake news. This post muses about fake businesses... companies started with fraud in mind.
Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes and former president Ramesh Balwani with an "elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company's technology, business, and financial performance." This sends a clear message to startups in Silicon Valley and around the world. "Innovators who seek to revolutionize and disrupt an industry must tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today," said Jina Choi, SEC director, "...not just what they hope it might do someday."
As PR consultants, we listen to our prospects' and clients' startup stories and even help craft their messages. We paint new companies in the best possible light based on the information we are given to work with. The startup culture represents all that is great in America: innovators, disruptors, artists, creatives, risk-takers... and with great risk, comes great reward. Some leaders embrace the pace of virtue and vigor... and others take a darker path and "fake it until they make it." In Theranos' case, as well as Uber, Snapchat and so many more, young and hungry tech gurus can slip from power in a, well, snap.
Inflated investor reports, created credentials, miscalculated metrics, fudged financials... where is this growth hacking leading us as a society, an economy built on innovation? Is this like cheating on Solitaire, or cheating on your entrance exam into society?
Where is the authenticity we purport to value? Does this mean authentic, honorable companies have an even bigger leg up on the competition in the future simply by choosing the path of truth?
Comment below with your thoughts.