Elizabeth Holmes: The rise and fall of the Theranos founder
Holmes’s claims for her blood-testing business turned her into a Silicon Valley darling, but some began to ask questions.
A jury in the United States has found Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty of conspiring to defraud investors in the blood-testing startup, convicting her on four of 11 counts.
Holmes, 37, was accused of defrauding investors and patients with her claims of revolutionising lab testing with a machine that used a single drop of blood. She pleaded not guilty.
Here is a timeline of the key events that led to Monday’s verdict.
Holmes, then just 19 years old, drops out of Stanford University to set up Real-Time Cures, the company that will eventually become Theranos. She dreams of revolutionising diagnostic testing.
The new company raises more than $6m in funding, reaching a valuation of $30m.
Holmes’s then-partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani joins Theranos as chief operating officer.
Theranos raises a further $45m in funding, reaching a valuation of $1bn.
Theranos begins attracting high-profile board members, including two former US secretaries of state, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger.
The company moves to the former Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
Theranos begins promoting its technology, claiming to be able to run a wide range of tests on a single drop of blood using a machine called the Edison, and enters into a partnership with pharmacy group Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Having raised more than $400m, Theranos is valued at more than $9bn. Holmes is recognised by Forbes as a billionaire – a reflection of her stake in the company.
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association criticises Theranos for failing to publish any of its research in peer-reviewed journals.
Theranos wins US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a test to detect the herpes simplex 1 virus.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Theranos uses its technology for just a small number of its tests and that employees doubt their accuracy.
The FDA subsequently releases a finding that the company used unapproved devices for tests.
The US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) releases a report that one of the company’s facilities presents “jeopardy to patient health and safety”.
The agency said an inspection revealed that the facility did not meet its own quality-control standards, including not properly calibrating equipment.
Walgreens ends its relationship with Theranos.
Partner Fund Management, which invested nearly $100m in Theranos, sues the company for securities fraud, claiming it lied about its technology to secure the investment. The case is later settled.
Theranos reaches a deal with CMS barring it from the blood-testing business for two years.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission charges Theranos, Holmes and Balwani with securities fraud. Holmes is stripped of her stake in and control of the company.
Holmes and Balwani are indicted on criminal fraud charges. Both plead not guilty.
Theranos announces that it will dissolve.
Holmes reveals she is pregnant.
Holmes gives birth to her child. A court filing reveals that Holmes plans to argue she was under the control of Balwani, who she says was abusive, at the time of the charged crimes. Balwani denies the allegations in court filings.
Trial begins in San Jose, California.
Holmes takes the stand to testify in her defence. She denies seeking to mislead investors and patients. She says Balwani was in charge of financial models provided to investors and that he was abusive in their relationship.
Jurors hear closing arguments from both sides.
January 3, 2022
Holmes is convicted on charges of defrauding three other investors, as well as conspiring to do so. She is acquitted on three counts of defrauding patients who paid for tests from Theranos and a related conspiracy charge.
The jury could not reach a decision on three counts related to individual investors. A sentencing date is not immediately set. She faces up to 80 years in prison when sentenced by US District Judge Edward Davila but will probably get a less severe sentence.