Elizabeth Holmes was a young and promising entrepreneur that had shot to fame after the founding of Theranos, a revolutionary and secretive blood-testing company. Her net worth reached a staggering $4.5 billion at the height of her success. She adorned magazines, her TED talk was a sensation, and her product seemed to be life-changing. But everything came crashing down when her fraud was uncovered after investigations by The Wall Street Journal. Today, she is seen in stark contrast to the once shining star she was – her company dissolved, her investors lost millions, and her reputation in ruins. In this blog post, we explore the rise, fall, and everything else about Elizabeth Holmes.
Early Life and Early Success
Elizabeth Anne Holmes, born in 1984, was a bright student, and owing to her exceptional ability, she got admission to Stanford University at only 19 years of age. Her interest in healthcare was further fueled when she worked in a labspace in Singapore, where she studied severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS. She later dropped out of Stanford to start Theranos, which she claimed would change the way people approached blood tests. Her initial success came from early investors who were convinced by her charisma and persistence, and she raised millions over a decade.
The Rise of Theranos
Elizabeth’s vision was to create a compact blood testing machine that would test for multiple diseases using only a few drops of blood. Her pitch was that with this new technology, she could revolutionize the entire blood testing industry. She had convinced a few well-known figures such as Henry Kissinger and George Schultz to invest in Theranos, and its value grew from $10 billion to a whopping $9 billion in 2015. Forbes even named her America’s youngest female billionaire, and her net worth was said to be upwards of $4.5 billion.
The Fall of Theranos
The high point of Elizabeth’s career came in 2015 when The Wall Street Journal published a damning report stating that the technology Theranos was using didn’t work as advertised, and the company was covering it up with its own patents. This led to a criminal investigation, and eventually, Elizabeth was indicted on charges of fraud. In 2018, Theranos dissolved, and its investors lost millions. Elizabeth had to resign as CEO of the company, and today, she is facing criminal charges and a trial in March 2021.
One of the biggest reasons for Elizabeth’s downfall was her habit of making exaggerated claims. For one, she claimer her company’s proprietary lab testing equipment could offer full-body diagnostics with only a few drops of blood, which would translate to around 70 different blood tests. However, the technology wasn’t capable of delivering accurate results. Surprisingly, she managed to trick investors and attain unnaturally high valuations for Theranos, despite several medical experts voicing their doubts.
The Culture of Silence
A culture of silence was what Elizabeth and Theranos promoted. She had ensured that employees didn’t dare to speak out about the challenges or the false promises the company was making. Theranos had a policy to keep every employee under NDAs or non-disclosure agreements, with which they couldn’t speak about the company, whether they traded or not. This culture of secrecy also resulted from Elizabeth’s autocratic style of leadership, who kept unilaterally making financial and strategic decisions without considering the input of senior executives.
As previously mentioned, Elizabeth’s troubles started with the legal investigation into her company. The regulators found that the technology was faulty, and the company had made false claims in advertising its lab testing equipment. Elizabeth had to step down as CEO of the company, and various other executives were sued. Apart from this, Elizabeth has multiple other litigations against her. In 2019, the SEC found that Elizabeth was misleading her investors regarding the company’s technology, and she has to pay an $500,000 settlement as a result.
Alex Gibney’s 2019 Documentary, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, is a depiction of Elizabeth’s fall. The documentary explores the extent to which Elizabeth and her company’s deception had reached, and how she managed to fake everything in such a sophisticated manner. Alex Gibney interviews former employees who have put their fears aside to reveal the shadier side of Theranos. It shows how Elizabeth and her team managed to manipulate patients and investors for years, causing financial and medical harm on all sides.
Elizabeth Holmes’s trial is set for March 2021, and if she faces conviction on the several fraud charges laid against her, she could serve up to 20 years in prison. The trial is set to lasting for six months, and it’s expected to be a long battle. The defense team is expected to argue that Elizabeth Holmes was under duress and mental pressure to achieve success and that she didn’t have fraudulent intentions. However, given the severity of the charges and the evidence against her, it’s difficult to say whether she’ll be able to escape such a fate or not.
FAQ – 1. How much is Elizabeth Holmes worth?
Elizabeth Holmes’s net worth has been listed in 2021 as zero dollars as per Forbes.
FAQ – 2. How old is Elizabeth Holmes?
Elizabeth Holmes was born in February 1984 in Washington, D.C, making her 37 years old in 2021.
FAQ – 3. How tall is Elizabeth Holmes?
While there’s no news on Elizabeth Holmes’s height, she appears to be rather small in stature, as can be seen from her photos.
FAQ – 4. What was Theranos’s biggest lie?
Their most shocking lie was a claim that their proprietary lab testing equipment could offer full-body diagnostics with only a few drops of blood, which would translate to around 70 different blood tests. However, the technology wasn’t capable of delivering accurate results.
FAQ – 5. What is Elizabeth Holmes doing now?
Elizabeth is focusing on her legal defense as of the moment, she is awaiting trial after being charged with several counts of fraud.