San Francisco Chronicle tech columnist Thomas Lee says Theranos’s top spokesperson, Brooke Buchanan, is leaving the company.
Buchanan did not return a call and text to her cellphone, but the Chronicle says she confirmed her departure, without offering further comment.
Lee writes …
(I)t was not clear whether [Theranos founder Elizabeth] Holmes was listening to [Buchanan’s] advice. For example, Theranos recently agreed to present the company’s blood-testing technology at a major medical conference Aug. 1. Holmes also plans to hold a major press conference after the event with 200 members of the national media, a decision that public-relations experts I spoke to earlier this month strongly questioned. Why would Holmes agree to speak to reporters when Theranos is facing a criminal investigation from federal prosecutors and inquiries from regulatory agencies?
Buchanan, whose title is vice president of communications, joined Theranos last November, not long after The Wall Street Journal had published two devastating investigative reports about the company. It was all downhill from there. One of Buchananan’s skills listed on Linkedin is “crisis communications,” something that must have come in handy as she was forced to respond to a drumbeat of bad news about the company, including a failed government inspection, the resulting threat of crippling sanctions, and the severing of its partnership with Walgreens, which unceremoniously announced it would immediately stop offering Theranos services in its stores. We could go into more detail, but suffice it to say the whole saga is dramatic enough to inspire a coming movie with Jennifer Lawrence.
Buchanan came to Theranos after stints at Williams-Sonoma and Walmart. But she is best known as the press secretary for GOP presidential candidate John McCain during his 2008 election campaign against Barack Obama. (Here she is in 2007, saying she “will quit smoking when we win the nomination.”)
Buchananan’s departure would be yet another blow for Theranos, and will open up another job at the company. Among the positions listed on the Theranos website: both an executive assistant and a personal assistant for founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes.