Theranos Doesn't Just Need New Executive Assistants. It Needs a New Executive.
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After voiding thousands of faulty diagnostic tests and saying goodbye to its company president, Theranos is looking for some new blood, including an executive assistant as well as a personal assistant to CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
With each passing week, the list of controversies and challenges Theranos faces grows longer. Since October, the biotech company has confronted scrutiny for deception regarding its technology, the accuracy of its blood tests and its failure to adhere to scientific standards. The government has threatened sanctions against its lab operations and top executives, and president Sunny Balwani has entered early retirement in an obvious “you can’t fire me, I quit” move. At the same time, Theranos is adding new executives and board members to bolster its credibility, the company is sending out tens of thousands of notices regarding the invalidity of its tests.
While the public braces for Theranos to fold as a result of its extensive list of blunders, the company is not giving up. It’s likely that the new hires’ roles at Theranos will entail not just helping to run the company, but keeping it from running into the ground.
The job listings, posted on Theranos’s website, detail duties that any prospective right-hand to a Silicon Valley CEO would expect: maintain travel, communicate effectively, be professional, work well with others. But some aspects of the job description provide a glimpse into the company’s current state of chaos: the ability to handle correspondence with “a high degree of discretion and confidentiality” and manage “constantly moving priorities” are among the responsibilities listed.
The company has dozens of open positions, yet the new assistants are most telling. While Balwani accepted defeat and resigned, Holmes isn't likely to leave the helm of her company unless the feds force her out. She founded Theranos as an undergraduate and transformed it into a business once valued at more than $9 billion. She’s been steadfast despite all of the signs that Theranos may be doomed.
It may be difficult for Holmes to accept, but the reputation of her company is directly linked to her leadership. If Holmes would let go, Theranos might have a chance to reinvent its image and rise from the ashes. Instead, she has chosen to stay on and build an army of damage controllers around her, regardless of what her departure could do to clean up any negative associations.
As an entrepreneur, sometimes it’s difficult to know when letting go is in your company’s best interests.