“Don’t worry about the future, we’ll be well taken care of.”
So said former US President Bill Clinton when he introduced Elizabeth Holmes to his adoring New York crowd in 2015.
It seemed like an uncontroversial statement at the time, as he praised the achievements of a woman who became America’s youngest self-made female billionaire after taking Silicon Valley by storm.
As the epicenter of the world’s largest tech companies, the only thing more representative of this notorious part of Northern California than scientific breakthroughs and innovative products are wealthy white people who always have their backs — turtlenecks and trendy pants sneakers combination.
Holmes, a high school computer whiz turned Harvard dropout, was a bona fide interloper, propelled by a stunning Forbes cover boosted by Theranos, the health-tech company she founded, whose The valuation quickly climbed to a peak of $9 billion. Looking back at what it promised to deliver, it’s easy to see why.
At the heart of its pitch is a revolutionary blood test that can be performed with astonishing speed and requires only a tiny drop — and no needles.
Holmes, whose catchphrase became “Change the World,” asserted that her company’s device could detect dozens of diseases at once.
She insists that it will transform American health care, not just by speeding up and simplifying the trip to the doctor, but eventually by making it obsolete by selling the gadgets in stores.
It would be more than a decade before such claims were revealed as the stuff of science fiction, but Holmes’ unashamed willingness to speak out about them has made her one of Silicon Valley’s darlings, raising millions of dollars from investors and venture capitalists. One hundred million U.S. dollars.
As Theranos grew, her public persona was crafted to perfection, making her the perfect face for one of America’s most exciting companies, famously the aforementioned of her idol Steve Jobs Turtleneck, the late Apple founder, and speaks in a surprisingly deep voice that adds extra gravitas to her every word.
Fame is not something everyone can have, but for Holmes, it seems to be the most basic.
Nothing seems to go wrong. until it happens. important moment.
how lies are exposed
Holmes’ empire began to unravel after a bombshell Wall Street Journal report said Theranos’ technology was deeply flawed.
The devices used to collect people’s blood, which the company calls “nanocontainers,” are said to be so far off the market that Theranos has in fact been using other companies’ devices to conduct blood tests in its labs.
Most poignant in the Journal report, the company’s former chief scientist, Ian Gibbons, a Briton, tried to take his own life after telling his wife the technology didn’t work. He died shortly after liver failure.
The stories come a month after Holmes shared the stage with Bill Clinton.
As described by Sky’s Ian King When Theranos went bankrupt in 2018three years after the Wall Street Journal report, the key to the company’s keeping its wool firmly out of the public eye has been an almost cult-like culture among its executives and employees, and one of extreme secrecy.
Neither is unique to Silicon Valley — some of the tech giants that have emerged over the years remain the odd focus of cults in some corners of the internet — but they have rarely combined to have such a devastating effect.
The reporter who broke the story, John Carreyrou, has since written a book about the scandal called “Bad Blood,” which will be made into a feature film. It’s perhaps a cruel irony that it was produced by Apple, the company whose late co-founder was a source of inspiration for Holmes.
Her rise and fall also inspired a hit podcast series called The Dropout, and a subsequent Hulu series of the same name starring Amanda Seyfried.
The show portrays Holmes as a brave, intelligent, single-minded young woman determined to succeed, and she’s an easy advocate at first. As Apple designer Ana Arriola told Holmes in a scene when she tried to recruit her after the release of the first iPhone: “Honestly, I’m really excited, you’re a young woman CEO, not a pompous little boy sweatshirt.”
But Holmes’ goal of becoming a wealthy star in the biotech world soon overcame all other instincts — including a willingness to tell the truth.
That trait has deeply disturbed some employees, not just Gibbons and Arriola, who describes her time at Theranos on her LinkedIn page as “altruism through corrupted amoral science fiction.”
how life unraveled
Carreyrou’s revelations have sparked investigations by U.S. medical and financial regulators, and Holmes has admitted trying to silence her. The 34-year-old faced criminal charges in 2018, which was unthinkable in the past.
She and Theranos president, former lover Romesh Balwani (Romesh Balwani)who she later accused of sexual assault), accused of participating in “a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients”, Each faces two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud.
Among the duped investors are the likes of Rupert Murdoch and US pharmaceutical giant Walgreens, while similar high-profile figures have been lured into Theranos’ board.
These include former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, as well as the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control.
All of them were blindsided by Holmes, who founded Theranos at 18 and quickly learned how to tell her supporters exactly what they wanted — and she needed them — to hear.
As Eric Jackson, founder of the startup and author of The Battle for PayPal, puts it, put it on sky news: “The system is almost universally needed, and I don’t want to say hyperbole, but to tell a narrative that is attractive to investors. At some point, the hype really has to meet the credibility, if not you” It’s a good old fashioned fraud case. “
Whether it was a matter of delusion, falling victim to the “fake it” culture permeating American start-ups, or something more sinister, Holmes insisted during her trial that she initially believed Her company’s supposedly revolutionary blood test is real.
“I wanted to communicate the impact a company can have on people and healthcare,” she told the court during a meeting with investors.
For prosecutors, such assertions were the result of a woman who “had no time and no money”.
Having started her company by repurposing family money spent on a Harvard degree, mainstreaming it meant doing whatever it takes to lure her significant investors and venture capitalists.
“I don’t know what to trust Theranos anymore,” Jim Mattis, a once-obsessed former U.S. defense secretary who joined the company’s board, said at the trial.
“When we needed the truth, she chose lies”
Holmes’ sentencing Friday follows her sentencing convicted of fraud Earlier this year, her years-long scam failed to impress a jury as much as her supporters.
After a high-profile case, just as she rose to fame, U.S. federal prosecutors want a judge to sentence her to 15 years in prison, a term deemed appropriate for “one of the worst white-collar crimes in Silicon Valley or anywhere else to see.”
Balwani, who waited until next month to be sentenced, was also found guilty of multiple fraud charges in a separate trial.
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In a 46-page briefing last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S Leach wrote: “She has repeatedly chosen lies, hype, and the prospect of billions of dollars over patient safety and the Fair Dealing for Investors.
“Elizabeth Holmes’ crimes didn’t fail, they were lying – lying in the most serious context, and everyone needs her to tell the truth.”
An 82-page rebuttal from Holmes’ lawyers insists her reputation has been permanently and unfairly damaged because it has turned her into a “mocked and defamed caricature”.
They appealed the sentence not exceeding 18 months.
More than 130 friends, family members, former investors and employees also filed letters with Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, asking for clemency.
Senator Cory Booker praised the 38-year-old Holmes in his words “for making the world a better place despite his mistakes.”
Whether it’s true or not, she can’t get out of prison.