Two examples, even as big as these, do not a trend make. But there’s another big sign that the American faith in the galaxy-level intelligence of our wealthiest people is being rattled: the dawning realization that many people have exploited this mythology for the purposes of plain old fraud.
Just this past couple of weeks, we’ve seen both former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years in prison and the total career implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried, former CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. In both cases, it should have been obvious that what they were selling to investors was pure nonsense. Holmes’ alleged blood-test technology showed multiple signs of being a smoke-and-mirrors job, and numerous sensible people have been calling cryptocurrency a scam from the very beginning. However you slice it, a heavy dose of skepticism was warranted in both cases.
But both Holmes and Bankman-Fried managed to quash other people’s doubts by leveraging the cult of the billionaire genius. Both expertly played to stereotypes to bamboozle investors. Holmes literally modeled her look and demeanor after Steve Jobs, which was such a weird thing to do that it only reinforced her image as a quirky brainiac. Bankman-Fried hyped himself as a relentless workaholic who slept at the office. Both images are meant to suggest a person too focused on changing the world to care about personal appearance. In reality, these personas were as carefully cultivated as Kim Kardashian’s, and they were highly effective in convincing gullible people to part with their money.
More importantly, a bunch of people who have tricked everyone into thinking that they’re geniuses are finally being revealed as the imposters they always were.Is America’s infatuation with billionaires finally coming to an end? – Raw Story – Celebrating 18 Years of Independent Journalism