A Health Warning for Boards

a health warning for boards

It’s very clear that there is much to learn from failure, and this is particularly true of corporate failure.


Fidelio recognises the importance of case studies, including for Board Development and Board learning. To that end we have already focused on the learnings from the Wirecard and Carillion corporate collapses as Boardroom case studies. While not listed, the rise and fall of Theranos, a US startup promising radical innovation in blood testing which collapsed in 2018, also has clear governance implications.


The January 2022 conviction of former Theranos CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, on charges of defrauding investors has, like the trajectory of her company, attracted significant attention. There has been much coverage of this extraordinary story of a company with a miracle product and a high profile CEO, who also brought much needed gender diversity to a very male dominated sector. The focus has been largely on the consumers who were sold short or the investors who seemed to have got things so wrong.


Fidelio’s perspective is that of the Board and there are clearly key governance issues in the Theranos failure, which we explore in this Overture. These included:


  • The Right Competence in the Boardroom

  • The Value of an Independent Chair

  • Board Oversight of Investor Communication

  • Fostering Good Regulatory Relationships

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