Craig Hall’s decades-long real estate career has been propelled by calculated risks. Some have paid off, others haven’t. But the developer knows when to answer the phone. And one day in October 2006, a college dropout who helmed what would soon be billed as the Apple of medicine wanted his ear.
The rise and fall of Silicon Valley darling Theranos has been well publicized—the company was once valued at more than $1 billion (a unicorn, in tech industry jargon) but ascended like Icarus up-up-up to a $9 billion valuation, eventually crashing down to below its initial value. Lesser known is how Hall plays into this narrative. The developer took that call back in 2006. And in 20 minutes, CEO Elizabeth Holmes, the company’s founder, had convinced him to invest $2 million.
“What motivated me was that she’s extremely passionate about making a difference and changing the world and if I could contribute to something that would really make a difference in peoples lives, I wanted to do that,” Hall says. “I also knew that if it worked it would be a financial home run.”
With Theranos, Holmes and her staff had developed technology that allowed them to test for a variety of diseases with only a drop of blood from a patient’s finger prick. Simpler and cheaper blood tests would give patients the power to order their own tests without waiting for a doctor, eliminating the middle men. The technology attracted Walgreens, which initiated a partnership that would reach of thousands of customers. Theranos expanded throughout California and Arizona. Hall’s investment ballooned into more than $300 million.