American former biotechnology entrepreneur and convicted fraudster Elizabeth Anne Holmes was born on February 3, 1984. Theranos was a health technology company that Holmes founded in 2003 and led as CEO until it went bankrupt. Following the company’s assertion that it had developed methods that could use surprisingly small volumes of blood, such as from a fingerprick, the stock price skyrocketed.
In 2015, Holmes’s company was valued at $9 billion, making her the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire in America, according to Forbes.  Forbes lowered its estimate of Holmes’s net worth to zero the following year as evidence of possible fraud surrounding Theranos’ claims began to surface, and Fortune included her in its feature article on “The World’s 19 Most Disappointing Leaders.”
The downfall of Theranos can be traced back to 2015, when a series of journalistic and regulatory investigations cast doubt on the company’s technology claims and raised questions about whether Holmes had misled investors and the government. Theranos and Holmes were charged by the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with “massive fraud” in 2018 for making false or exaggerated claims about the reliability of the company’s blood-testing technology. Holmes settled the charges by paying a $500,000 fine, returning 18.9 million shares to the company, giving up voting control of Theranos, and accepting a ten-year ban from serving as an officer or director of a public company.
But by 2015, holes were beginning to show through, and by the following year, Holmes had been exposed as a fraud. In 2018, her once-promising startup had already failed due to the failure of the technology she had promoted. A California jury found her guilty on four counts of fraud in January; the maximum sentence for each count is twenty years in prison.
When it came to the remaining charges, the jury found her not guilty on four and deadlocked on three. After entering not guilty pleas to all charges, Holmes requested a new trial, but his requests were denied.
Extremely tense debuts
The reason Holmes took such a risk on technology she knew didn’t work has never been fully explained, despite being the subject of a book, an HBO documentary, a TV series, and an upcoming film. She came from a wealthy family in Washington, DC, and was known to have been a polite but reserved child.
An 81-year-old inventor and businessman named Richard Fuisz speculated that Holmes felt tremendous pressure to succeed. His family had been neighbours with the Holmes family for a long time until a patent dispute between the two parties in 2011 led to a lawsuit from Theranos (it was later settled).
Ascent on the order of a meteor
Months later, at the age of 19, Holmes dropped out of Stanford and founded Theranos, touting her “revolutionary” method of testing blood with just a finger prick.
Rich people were captivated and invested without first seeing audited financial statements. Her supporters included former US Treasury Secretary George Schultz, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the Waltons, the richest family in the United States.
She appeared more trustworthy because of the backing she received and her general demeanour. Dr. Jeffrey Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School, had lunch with her in 2015 and later remarked, “I knew she’d had this brilliant idea and that she had managed to convince all these investors and scientists.”
“She was confident, but when I asked her several questions about her technology, she didn’t look like she understood,” said Dr. Flier, who never conducted a formal evaluation of her invention. “It seemed strange, but I didn’t get the impression that it was a hoax.”
What was Theranos?
Theranos was a startup company in the health care industry that developed technologies to streamline the blood testing process. This machine, which Holmes referred to as the “Edison device,” was said to be capable of performing over 200 diagnostic tests on a single blood sample.
The company was rebranded as Theranos in 2003, under Holmes’s leadership (a portmanteau of “therapy” and “diagnosis”). Robertson joined the company’s board of directors and connected Holmes with potential investors. Holmes admired Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs, so much so that he often wore black turtleneck sweaters in homage to Jobs’ signature look.
Holmes claims that her mother put her in black turtlenecks when she was young and that she started wearing them when she was about eight years old, but an employee claims that in 2007, Holmes suggested that they all wear turtlenecks like Jobs did in his signature Issey Miyake style.
A former Theranos employee claimed he heard her speak in a voice stereotypical of a woman her age to welcome him when he was hired, despite the fact that she typically used a deep baritone voice during public appearances.
Even Stanford’s Dr. Gardner disagrees that Holmes was born with a deep voice. However, she has a genuine deep voice, as her family has always insisted.