Lesson Startups Can Learn from Theranos

Lesson Startups Can Learn from Theranos

Posted by Matt Reilly | December 14, 2016 | Culture, Innovation

Elizabeth-

We’ve never met. I am the CEO of a leading-edge tech startup. If you’ve spent any time around children, you know that sometimes the best teaching opportunities happen at the most unexpected times. So, thank you for the situation you have created.

Thank you for having an ambitious and bold vision. As a CEO, I appreciate vision and ambition.

I also appreciate in a different way the other teaching moments you make possible.

Thank you for being a model of how not to be a customer-centric CEO. Too often we focus on what we could do, or should do, but occasionally someone comes along and models many leadership qualities that we should clearly avoid. Integrity, good judgement, transparency and clear communication can be abstract concepts until a leader demonstrates the opposite of these.

Thank you for destroying so much shareholder and customer trust and value that it illuminates the efforts of honest, diligent CEOs in sharp contrast. None of us should make no mistakes. As is often said, if you’re making no mistakes you’re not trying hard enough — all of us will make mistakes along the way. But the scale and scope of the challenges you’ve manufactured, even potentially putting customer health at risk, encourages the rest of us to try harder knowing it’s a long way before we get to that line.

Thank you to your Board of Directors for helping B-school professors everywhere explain the concept of fiduciary duty to their students, and what it looks like done well, and done poorly. Thank you for providing fodder for a recent very productive Board discussion at my company where we talked about the latitude CEOs should have, and where and when Boards should intervene. And what behavior might lead to termination of a CEO. I wonder if your Board discussed what could be learned from Groupon, or if they know who Andrew Mason is. Thank you for showing how dangerous it is to have a Board with little operating experience; the composition of a Board is critical for a company’s success especially in the early stages of growth. And for helping insurance carriers everywhere sell more D&O insurance to suddenly-concerned Boards and Executive Officers.

Finally, to you and your Board, thank you on behalf of technology companies on the leading edge of their industries, with products that actually work and on which people rely every day, for making our already-difficult jobs just a little easier because other startups out there have demonstrated clearly what not to do in so many situations.

Matt Reilly
CEO
Mogean

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Matt Reilly is the CEO of Mogean, which uses advanced geospatial location data and predictive analytics to deliver real-time information to companies to enable them to assess, predict and meet their customers’ needs.  

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