News Volume I Issue 13
Living in Digital Times
Summer Reads
The Talented Mrs. Ripley of Digital Health
Zem Joaquin, founder of the Near Futures Summit, writes to tell us that the summer’s most cautionary tale is John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. The story is a detailed account of Theranos, the company that rose to fame and fell to its knees, all while promising a better, less invasive blood test. For the Cliffs Notes version of the saga, read Business Insider’s history recounting how, despite the hype and the millions of dollars raised, the Theranos technology just didn’t work. Worse still, fake results were promoted as the coverup. The SEC charged the company with being “a massive fraud.”
The moral? When things don’t work, don’t cover up to placate investors. Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO, managed to con the best of the con-ers with the perfect cocktail of hipness, black turtlenecks, articulateness and of course, bad data. It’s a moment of hubris for the land of fast pitches and big personalities, but it’s also a setback for women when they come out looking like pathological liars.
The Theranos idea was a powerful one. A new Valley-based startup, Athelas, is working on something similar. Using just a pinprick of blood (in lieu of tubefuls), they are looking at blood components: neutrophils, lymphocytes, platelets, and white blood count by using neural networks and deep learning. At Living in Digital Times, we’re “kvelling” because Tanay Tandon, the company’s founder and a Cupertino High guy, was our very first Young Innnovator to Watch award winner at CES in 2014.Tandon took a leave of absence after his freshman year at Stanford to pursue this work. It’s worth looking at the science and data behind Athelas and noting the site’s intense and intentional transparency. Theranos gave it a good shot, but Athelas (Greek for “to heal”) may get there.
Retail and Tariffs
We just returned from our trip to Shanghai for CES Asia, where tariff talk was the elephant in the room. According to Deborah Weinswig of Fung Global, the tech industry, not the consumer goods industries, is in the eye of the storm. Read her excellent report on the tariff dispute and why consumer goods may be less scathed. Next over to Richard Gottlieb's Global Toy News column, where the crystal ball shows a different future. China, lest we forget, manufactures 86% of the toys bought by US households.
If you’re heading to San Francisco on July 11-12, visit the WT | Wearable Technologies Conference 2018 USA. Julie Sylvester, producer of the CES Wearable Tech Summit, will be moderating a panel featuring Randy Kellogg of Omron Healthcare, Joni Kettunen of Firstbeat, Tejash Unadkat of Motiv, Jonathan Palley of Spire and Meg Grant of SEISMIC. Use the code WTUS18_LIDT to get 20% off your ticket.
Smart Talking at Marriott
These days I’m forever walking into my hotel room and automatically telling an imaginary Alexa to set my alarm. So I was happy to hear that is making Marriott International Alexa-friendly. They’ll partner to place Echo smart speakers at select hotels as part of a new Alexa for Hospitality initiative. Just hope that whomever it is you share your room with is not named Alexa.
January 8-11, 2019
CES 2019, Las Vegas
Inquire about Sponsorships, Exhibitors, Speakers Robin Raskin
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