Silicon Valley Snake Oil

Years ago when I first began calling out what I deemed as “snake oil,” it was mainly concentrated to what is now referred to as “the self improvement/motivation industry.” Although I believe in (as well as instruct) in self improvement, as well as motivation (motivation being an internal discipline rather than an external) I have not been shy to criticize both the industry, as well as some of the players or constructs they employ.

I was one of the first to openly state the whole Left brain – Right brain mumbo jumbo was for the brain dead. All I’ll say is this; it didn’t win me any friends within the industry.

However, we now know that whole idea of “I’m a one-sided brain extraordinaire!” has been dismissed as rubbish by the scientific community via the scientific method. It’s not a “consensus” opinion. It’s a scientific fact as opposed to the pseudoscience which has perpetuated it.

Yet, that still hasn’t stopped Human Resource departments across the globe from buying some “New and Improved” version as to force down gullets in meeting rooms everywhere as they increase the effectiveness of this dribble with slide after slide in a death by PowerPoint® venue washed down with stale pastry and watered down coffee. But I digress.

So why do I bring this point up? Well, I was just sent a recent interview conducted by Bloomberg™ with one of the investors of Theranos™and it fit squarely into something else I’ve been calling out these many years: What’s behind many a “unicorn” is nothing more than a piecing together of anything which might appear believable as to hope and pray Wall Street buys it – literally.

Many of the shenanigans I’ve written or spoken about has been the literal calling out of what I see as pure – unadulterated – bulls##t.

Yes, it’s only my opinion for I have no inside information and have to make my assessments from afar just like anyone else. (anyone that is who will actually look) Yet, that said, I have a honed and practiced bulls##t meter that’s second to none. And it’s being proved out as time moves forward that many of the calls I made, about what I saw as “wait…what?” moments, were indeed worthy of pausing, as to make sure what I heard, read, or saw jived with what was being witnessed, sometimes to the absolute contrary.

I would like to take you back to just one instance as an example that wasn’t all that long ago to put more context around what I have forthcoming.

Remember when the whole Jack Dorsey controversy came up with him being CEO of both Twitter™ as well as Square™ along with the timing? That timing being Twitter on the bottom of the birdcage in stock value, and Square about to IPO hoping to soar. During that period I made the following observation. To Wit:

“This makes absolutely no sense what so ever unless: the board, as well as many investors are panic-stricken on just how bad things are behind the scenes and figured; the best they could do was to bring (or convince) a person such as Mr. Dorsey back on as CEO, spin the narrative as much as humanly possible, and pray Wall Street buys it. Literally.”

Here is where not only did I seem to get under a few peoples skin, but touched some very raw nerves. For suddenly as I predicted what was all “rainbows and unicorns” was morphing into “storm clouds and old grey mares.” Not to mention calling into question their observations or business acumen as having more of a charlatan-esque type approach, rather than anything bordering on objective.

And, once again: I wasn’t winning any friends.

As a matter of fact, such statements more often than not placed yours truly at the butt-end of some very “highbrow” twit-storms for stating such. So be it, for being proven correct in the end is always worth it. (“correct” being; hows all that, and all the other IPO’s working out? What? Too soon?)

So now with the above for context here is the link to the afore mentioned interview: DFJ’s Draper: There’s Nothing Wrong With Theranos.

This interview is just under 2 minutes. And it is and encyclopedia’s worth of insight for those who really want to understand what’s behind many a old-grey-mare unicorn still hoping for IPO paradise, rather, than the glue factory of M&A. That is, if the cash burn doesn’t force bankruptcy court vulture-ism first.

I implore you to watch, don’t take my word or opinion on anything. Watch, listen, and see if what you know to be true such as: their own admissions of farming out much of their testing to other vendors using generally known and accepted procedures because of their own reliability issues in their asserted breakthrough procedures, not withstanding, how its figurehead Ms. Holmes presented all those breakthroughs.

Tell me you don’t feel the need to take a shower after watching. Personally, I felt I might need to be pressure washed. I am still aghast. Welcome to “next in rotation fund manager” interviewing at its finest is all I’ll say.

If you wanted a more clear example of why people have not only left this “market” along with many of the business/financial media outlets, the above interview just about says it all.  (to be fair it’s only a sampling of the whole, but it says all that needs to be in my opinion)

You can replace every-time he said “Theranos” with “current monetary policy” and “Ms. Holmes” with “Chair Yellen” and the narrative and storytelling would be about the same. Along with the push-back, or lack there of. Welcome to Bizzaro world. However, there are some signs that people have caught on to all this and are searching out different avenues as to try and understand precisely what the heck is going on, rather than be spoon fed “Bad is now good, and terrible is terrific!” And I’m very proud to say I can use myself as one of the examples: To Wit:

Here are two naked search results about 24 hours after another rather large Theranos “moment” was making headlines.

Me as top story Google Theranos Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 6.51.44 AMMe as top Theranos Google Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 10.34.02 AM








As you can see, using a naked query, that is yours truly at the top. You don’t get there because you paid. You get there because the search algo’s are reacting to real “eye balls” as much as other criteria. And for those stating “Oh, that was just a fluke you’re trying to milk!” I would say “Fair enough.” However, to the right is another doing the same some hours later and, as one can see, some of the results had changed to show it wasn’t just a fluke.

I’ll also add, this is far from the first time I’ve demonstrated things such as this. I keep track of such things. If it were just a fluke I’d be pretty foolish to tout them. I only do it for the “Well who are you to say XYorZ?” crowd. So with that all said…

I don’t do “fire-walks,” nor am I some paid  “financial analyst” you’ll see on the remaining business networks. And you won’t see me in “The Economist™, NY Times™, Barrons™, or other mainstream financial/business media. Where I’ll also add – and proud of it.

No, I’m nobody ‘cept for a guy who can’t spell cat without spell checker – but has a bulls##t meter along with some business acumen that’s second to none, which seems to make news others want to read; rather than like a few others making news for “fire-walking” and “investing.” Albeit they both seem to now be feeling a lot of unwelcome “heat” themselves. But, I guess that’s showbiz – I mean – “investing” today.

Just remember and repeat 3 times while clicking your “execute order” button: “I BTFD because the Fed’s got my back.”

© 2016 Mark St.Cyr