This Steve Jobs Fan Took It Too Far

My favorite company is a terrible one; it can’t drive a profit, its product doesn’t work, its founder is legally bound from leading a publicly-held company for ten years, and its reputation might be damaged beyond repair

A company that I’m completely fixated on is in ruins, embers still smoldering.

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Theranos — the idea of it, the reason why it exists — is incredible and could have a lasting influence in medical technology. If you’re unfamiliar with Theranos, it’s a company created to revolutionize medical technology by shrinking and mobilizing blood-testing stations that are highly accurate, reliable, and supposedly painless. Too bad it’s really none of those things.

Theranos was founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes, a young and intelligent Stanford dropout with vision and drive that is rare, even in Silicon Valley — unfortunately, these characteristics lead to Theranos becoming a dumpster fire with the Feds waiting around the corner.

As CEO of Theranos, Holmes’ determination to see her dream become reality lead to her misleading investors and the public. She lied about the company’s operations and failed to mention that the blood-testing systems weren’t working.

Holmes prevented departments from communicating with each other, which is a result of her desire for complete control over Theranos’ operations. Communication between departments would allow the problems with the machines to be resolved, for the tests to become reliable and produce, you know, actual results, which would then calm investors, but an unhealthy relationship with secrecy was valued above all.

Steve Jobs, like many CEOs, valued secrecy, but that was really an effort to prevent leaks and anything important from getting out; communication within Apple was very much alive.

Jobs had a tight grip on his company and wanted all the credit, but enabled his employees to flourish together; Holmes had a stranglehold on Theranos, squeezing the life out of it, yet expecting it to breathe.

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As an iconic Silicon Valley CEO, Jobs had a profound impact on Holmes’ impressionable managing style — she even took on his black turtleneck swag and started riding around with no plates, just like Jobs (to do that Jobs would lease cars — usually Mercedes coupes — and get a new one every six months, avoiding license plate requirements).

While Jobs is certainly an inspiring figure, he’s by no means a model CEO. Unfortunately, Theranos is seen as the Apple of the medical world, with the goal of revolutionizing technology just like Apple did.

Can’t blame Holmes for looking at Jobs for guidance.

Holmes wanted Theranos’ systems to become the “iPod of healthcare”, which is a fantastic goal to have, but she took that ambition a bit too far by trying to make the devices minimalistic like Apple products. Theranos was bleeding money and could not afford to focus on simplifying its product; this increased production costs as it is not easy to shrink a sterilized blood-testing lab down to the size of a large toaster. While Apple could afford to play around with product design, a young and money-hungry public firm like Theranos needed to focus all of its effort on making something that was profitable and actually worked.

Holmes read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, and so have I. It’s a great read, and Isaacson is a wonderful writer. Turns out Steve Jobs was a bit of an asshole; he would hear your idea in a meeting, completely shit on both it and you in front of everyone, and then half an hour later say what you said and run with it with haunting enthusiasm as if his tirade thirty minutes prior never happened.

That’s not the best manual for a young CEO, but Holmes soaked it up; she saw herself as an untouchable star of Silicon Valley despite providing pretty much nothing of value. Theranos raised over $700 million from investors simply because of her brilliance and the idea of the company; they were told that the machines worked and that the results were reliable, but neither of these was true.

The story behind Theranos, the idea that it was a company intent on helping people and creating a better, healthier world is instantly captivating. Unfortunately, Holmes fell victim to her own pitch, just as investors had been.

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Jobs was ousted from Apple and ultimately came back to save it. Elizabeth Holmes, if she’s really about her Steve Jobs shit, would do the same and make Theranos the company it should have been.

Too bad it’s going to take ten years.

13 Points in 33 Seconds: The Greatest Achievement in Human History

Tracy McGrady isn’t my favorite athlete, something I discovered as a kid when my friends and I were talking about our favorite athletes of all time. Up to that point, I hadn’t really thought about it that much – I could list off a top ten or top five athletes from various sports, but never placed them in a specific, unchanging order.

The list was fluid, changing as my interests wavered. Basketball overtook baseball, which was then surpassed by soccer, which is and will always be at the top of the theoretical athletics totem pole. At some point, my list of favorite athletes would have to follow suit.

When I was around 14, Tracy McGrady was a fluid number one overall on my list, falling to two or three depending on how LeBron James or Cristiano Ronaldo were performing. LeBron and CR7 make the top three for obvious reasons, the most obvious being they’re two fucking GOATs and do amazing shit on a weekly basis.

Tracy made top three for a few reasons:

  1. His jersey number was 1 (most of the time), which is like saying, “Hey, I’m better than you at this, and I’m going to make sure you’re all aware of it.”
  2. He played for the Magic when I played for the Magic (on my [very stacked] Parks & Rec team)
  3. He wore a leg sleeve and an armband, which was swag on another level
  4. He could dunk on you (RIP Shawn Bradley) and then hit a three in your face
  5. Tracy McGrady is a great name, and T-Mac is a great nickname

Those are solid reasons to place a guy in one’s top three favorite athletes, but there’s another one that pretty much guarantees he can never fall out of the top three.

On December 9, 2004, my fucking boy T-Mac did something that no one will likely ever do again in human history. It was absolutely mad – the scenes…

Down 76-68 to the San Antonio Spurs, Tracy and his fellow Houston Rockets had a hill to climb and no time at all to do it – they were down 8 points with 43 seconds to left in the game, a deficit that is improbable, but not impossible to overcome.

It helps to have a Tracy McGrady on your team, a lanky 6’8” guard with tenacity and the ability to take over a game single-handedly, but those aren’t always in stock.

Okay, so 43 seconds to go, down 8, and T-Mac brings the ball up the court, Bruce Bowen guarding him closely. Typical Spurs, playing till the clock runs out.

Also, very typical Bruce Bowen. If you don’t know who he is, he’s this bald guy that was really, really, very extremely good at defending, especially around the perimeter.

Tracy does a little spin, executing it kinda poorly, but he gets saved by a screen which Bruce blindly cascades into, freeing up Tracy for an open three, which he drills like he’s tightening a screw into a wall or something. I don’t know, just know he made the shot, and it was beautiful.

There’s a video at the bottom of this, of course, but you should stick around for the words. I did these.

36 seconds on the clock as the ball goes in, and the Rockets are now down by five, 76-71.

The Spurs then scored in their typical boring fashion. 78-71 with about 32 seconds to go. Gulp.

Tracy brings the ball up the court again. Bruce is guarding him too closely again.

Guess what? Bruce got his ankles broken by a McGrady crossover then got screened again thanks to Yao Ming’s incredible stature and ability to take up space by being absolutely gigantic.

Using the screen, Tracy hits another three, this one being wet as fuckand in Tim Duncan’s eye. Celebrations ensuedespite the deficit. Home crowds can sense a comeback, and they were in for a legendary finish to an altogether ordinary game (you know, excluding the final 43 seconds).

Houston is down 4 points with 24.3 seconds left, barely more than the shot clock limit. (That’s 24 seconds long, but I mean, you gotta know that, right? It’s pretty common knowledge. Your crotchety middle school gym teacher with a Polish last name might not have enforced a shot clock, but there is one.)

Fast forward to 16 seconds left, and the Rockets are inbounding the ball. At this point, who really cares what happened when the Spurs had possession. Houston is down five, and the clock is ticking.

T-Mac receives the ball, once again stuck to Bruce Bowen by his freakish defensive gravity, luring opponents so close their jerseys blended together to make one four-digit number. Scrambling for space, Tracy manages to make just a few inches of space for a shot, which he launches with some apparent difficulty. It was honestly an uglyass shot, one that should never go in, but the shot wasn’t about to miss, not after the last two threes.

Bang. Houston now down two, 80-78 with 11.2 seconds remaining. Tracy was feeling it, the crowd was feeling it, and Gregg Popovich was trying his best not to let his team feel it too, as they were losing their grip on a game they should have had locked down before this run ever started.

Too late.

San Antonio then took a timeout, hopefully using the time to draw up a plan, which probably consisted of running around and using up every second while their lead was still intact.

If that was the plan, they only got the ‘running around’ part right. As for the ‘using up every second’ part, they only ate up four seconds; there were still seven remaining, which is great but only if you play for the Houston Rockets.

During the four seconds they had the ball, the Spurs managed to give the ball away to the man of the final 43 seconds, Tracy McGrady. Oops.

T-Mac has seven seconds to run up the court, avoiding all of his teammates at any cost, as they were all pretty trash. Well, they were.

Once again staying behind the three-point line, Tracy finds the nearest Spurs player with terrible, no good very bad hair, Brent Barry, and pulls up in his face. Not even two seconds left on the clock: splash.

81-80, Houston Rockets. A low-scoring affair, but one that instantly placed itself in the annals of basketball’s greatest moments. 13 points from 33 seconds. I don’t know if there’s a sport where that wouldn’t be spectacular.

(In golf, that’d be terrible, but golf is barely a sport and I played it in high school. We sucked.)

It wasn’t showing off or during a meaningless All-Star game, where defending is a seemingly unwritten and long forgotten rule; it was in the first few months of the season, and against a local rival during a comeback, one of the quickest in memory.

A feat like that will likely never happen ever again, one that I was alive to cherish.

Well, I saw it that night on SportsCenter, but it was still amazing to see, especially since Tracy has always been one of my favorite athletes.

No one else did that. Nobody. Go ahead, name someone – nope, they didn’t do it.

It’s a sacred moment in sports history, not just basketball. It’s likely that only basketball heads will know of it or remember it, but that’s enough. Let the greatest comeback ever achieved in 43 seconds by one person be cherished by those that truly appreciate how uncommon that was.

13 points in 33 seconds in an NBA game? Dude went from high school to the NBA and then did that. If you ask me, the second achievement is far superior.

As a reward for your patience (or for scrolling for two seconds) here’s the video in all it’s glory.