The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (HBO) versus The Dropout (ABC)

Rating – HBO (2.5 out of 5)
Rating – ABC (3.5 out of 5)

Summary: Both HBO and ABC decided to produce documentaries on the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes and the company she founded Theranos. The HBO documentary while it is prettier visually seems to concentrate more on the visual and emotional style than conveying the facts of the story.

Unlike, the Fyre documentaries, I found “The Dropout” clear and linear deliver of critical information to be vastly superior to the HBO version. I would only recommend watching “The Dropout”. For example, while Elizabeth Holmes has a strange baritone voice, ABC found a recording before Theranos as proof she doctored her voice for Theranos.

Both leave you wondering if all men simply succumb to women who make men feel needed and deliver a convincing story. The men on the board of Theranos should have prevented the loss of massive amounts of money but apparently, these older white men were thinking with their pecker.

Erika Cheung and Tyler Schultz represent the heroes of the story. People who confronted their superiors and then who were brave enough to become whistleblowers, despite the legal threats. Tyler Schultz, who is the grandson of George Schultz (previously Secretary of State) not only went to management, but to his grandfather who was a board member. His grandfather refused to listen, so he became the inside man for the Wall Street Journal. When faced with the Theranos lawyers, his parents had to help with $500k of financial support.

HBO Version: Simply watching the opening introduction to “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” show, you can see what you are going to receive. A great example, is they have a slow-motion close-up of a needle being inserted into someone’s arm, as we hear a recording of Ms. Holmes recounting her dislike of needles. The first 15 to 20 minutes of the documentary are throw away for me.

Where “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” documentary enjoys an advantage is the significant amount of Theranos footage; Corporate meetings, Holmes walking around the office, etc. The footage does provide you with a sense of the passion she communicated for the project. The movie also includes fascinating insights from the engineers on how the device didn’t actually function.

ABC Version: The biggest difference in the ABC documentary is the linear timeline storytelling, starting with the start-up and ending with the trials. They talk about how she tried to recruit Apple people in the beginning. Then hearing from them, about how they started to understand the issues surrounding Theranos, their attempt to discuss them and ultimately their decision to leave. I am so puzzled as to why people kept investing when these uber talented people left.

The ABC version also includes a little more background about what pre-Theranos Elizabeth. Based on her background, she appears to only desire obscene wealth and her goal wasn’t to change the world.

Finally, the ABC version execution of the wrap-up is vastly superior to HBO. Showing the depositions and interviews with some of the individuals afterward. The fact Elizabeth Holmes is currently engaged immediately following this debacle is eerily similar to Fyre documentary.