Would Boston Harbor Angels Have Invested in Theranos: the Answer is, NoZiad
By Ziad H. Moukheiber
President Boston Harbor Angels
Listening and reading about Theranos, I ask myself would Boston Harbor Angels have invested in the company?
The simple answer is no!
It is easy to say that in retrospect, however, there are some simple and fundamental reason why the group would have most likely passed on the deal.
The group invests in many companies that don’t make it or struggle but the culture of BHA leads me to say that Theranos would have not been funded by Boston Harbor Angels and this is why:
Founders who receive funding from the group tend to have the 5Hs as character traits. The 5Hs stand for humble, honest, hungry, hardworking and have a sense of humor. The founder of Theranos from all indications came across as very arrogant from the early days of the company and arrogance is a trait that rubs an angel group like Boston Harbor Angels the wrong way.
A Miracle Device
When an angel group is comprised of many experienced and seasoned professionals, scientists and successful entrepreneurs, the idea of a miracle device that can do “magic” against most basic science principals would raise many eyebrows and many questions.
Arrogant founders tend to dislike slow and tedious due diligence. Angel groups can be accused of missing out on good deals because of their slow process but they also miss out on bad deals because the founders cannot pass muster or have patience with the process or they simply get angry and move on.
In life sciences intellectual property is important, however angel investors especially in the Boston area understand all the subtleties and challenges of intellectual property. Simply put the group probably would not have been impressed by the intellectual property presented and would have needed more clinical trial data.
With a fast-moving company like Theranos, its valuation would have reflected the hype around the company not the actual value by creating milestones which is a focus of a group like Boston Harbor Angels.
Maybe it is the Boston culture or the Boston Harbor Angels culture, celebrity co-investors is not something the group is very impressed by. Instead, the group would prefer known expert investors who can validate the science, clinical data, and other items of importance
It is very easy to look in hindsight and say that we would have passed. But because individual members can each make their own decision, some might have invested anyway.
It is possible also that some investors would have invested small amount following the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) rule!