- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- American businessperson; a subject of an SEC investigation
If you’ve been as obsessed with The Dropout podcast as us, you’ll know that Elizabeth Holmes, disgraced former CEO of Theranos (a blood testing start-up based in Silicon Valley), was this month convicted on four out of 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The fallout from the Theranos scandal has captured the world’s attention since news of the epic misconduct was exposed. Now, there are two new projects about the debacle in the works too – in addition to the existing HBO docuseries The Inventor and aforementioned podcast, The Dropout.
A biopic about Holmes’ life has been confirmed, directed by Don't Look Up's Adam McKay and starring Jennifer Lawrence, as well as a Hulu TV spinoff of The Dropout, featuring Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth, slated for release on 3 March 2022.
But, for the uninitiated, who actually is Elizabeth Holmes, what happened at Theranos and where is Elizabeth now? Here’s everything you NTK about this crazy case.
Who is Elizabeth Holmes?
Elizabeth Holmes was born on 3 February 1984 in Washington, D.C, to middle class parents. According to Business Insider, at the age of nine, she told relatives with the "utmost seriousness and determination" that she wanted to be a billionaire when she grew up – a goal that, for a short time, she achieved.
Extremely intelligent, Holmes was a straight A student – taking Mandarin lessons and even starting her own business selling computer software to China during her time at high school.
It's said that Holmes was inspired by her great-great-grandfather, a surgeon, to go into the medical field, along with the untimely (and perhaps preventable) loss of her uncle to skin cancer. However, she soon learned from an early age that she was scared of needles – another reason she claims to have been inspired to create the blood testing company, Theranos, which hoped to use a smaller lance to obtain blood.
After graduating high school, Holmes elected to study chemical engineering at prestigious US college Stanford. She dropped out during her sophomore (second) year, at 19-years-old, to concentrate on building Theranos full time.
What was Theranos?
Medical device startup, Theranos, was a blood testing company that claimed to have the technology to run over 300 tests on one machine, using a single drop of blood. It was named the Edison device, after the inventor Thomas Edison.
Theranos made a number of impressive claims about its device, including that they had been asked to provide its finger prick tests to soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Official documents provided to potential investors featured Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline logos, suggesting the medical behemoths had lent its backing to its machines.
Huge names, including media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, ploughed over $1 billion into the company in investments. On its board of directors sat two ex-Secretary of States, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, plus former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, William Foege.
Theranos devices were even rolled out in 40 Walgreen stores – a US drugstore chain – for use by the general public in 2013, per Tatler.
There was just one problem though: *none* of Theranos’s claims were true.
In reality, the Edison devices could only run around eight tests, far from the hundreds advertised. They had not received endorsement by Pfizer or GSK, nor had they ever been deployed for use in Afghanistan.
To make matters worse, the machines in Walgreens stores were prone to reporting incorrect results, causing much emotional anguish for users.
What happened to Elizabeth Holmes?
Holmes enjoyed a meteoric rise from college dropout to Silicon Valley darling: a young, confident female entrepreneur celebrated for creating a truly exciting and innovative product with phenomenal potential to “change the world” as she was oft to claim.
At its peak, Theranos was worth $9 billion dollars and Elizabeth herself an estimated $6 billion. She travelled by private jet, graced the covers of Fortune, Forbes and Inc. magazines, and gave a TED Talk in 2014.
She was often referred to as the ‘female Steve Jobs’; a comparison she encouraged – claiming his trademark black polo neck/trouser combo as her own uniform.
But trouble stirred when one staffer, Tyler Schultz, concerned by the practices he witnessed within Theranos, called New York state’s public health lab to allege his concerns. In early 2015, that same whistleblower began leaking information to a Wall Street Journal reporter. The WSJ published an expose of the famously secretive company in October of that year – after which, the jig was up.
In 2018, Holmes was indicted on felony charges, before being charged as guilty on four counts of investor fraud in January 2022, according to the BBC. She was found innocent of four other charges and the jury failed to reach a verdict on a further three. She is expected to appeal this verdict.
Where is Elizabeth Holmes now?
Now 37-years-old, Elizabeth Holmes has been residing in San Francisco with her 29-year-old husband, hospitality heir William “Billy” Evans, to whom she wed in 2019. They welcomed their first child, a son, together in July last year.
The results of the appeal are as yet to be seen – but there’s one thing we know for sure: this latest verdict is unlikely to be the last we’ll hear of Elizabeth Holmes.
You Might Also Like