Rise and Fall of Theranos CEO Sentenced to Prison

  • Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford at 19 to start Theranos and grew its value to $9 billion.
  • Later, technology flaws were exposed, resulting in a months-long trial where Holmes was found guilty on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.
  • Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison and will begin serving her time on April 27, 2023.

In 2014, blood-testing startup Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, were on top of the world.

Back then, Theranos was a revolutionary idea thought up by a woman hailed as a genius who styled herself as a female Steve Jobs. Holmes was the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire, and Theranos was one of Silicon Valley’s unicorn startups, valued at an estimated $9 billion. 

But then it all came crashing down.

The shortcomings and inaccuracies of Theranos’s technology were exposed, along with the role Holmes played in covering it all up. Holmes was ousted as CEO and charged with “massive fraud,” and the company was forced to close its labs and testing centers, ultimately shuttering operations altogether.

In January, jurors of a federal court found Holmes guilty on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They found her not guilty on four other counts and failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the remaining three counts against her.

Holmes’ former romantic and business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was also convicted of fraud, in July. He was found guilty on all 12 fraud-related charges.

Holmes previously asked the presiding judge in her case to overturn her conviction. In May, Holmes’ attorneys argued evidence was “insufficient to sustain the convictions.” In early September, a judge tentatively denied Holmes’ request.

She also filed three motions requesting a new trial, all of which the judge ultimately denied.

On Friday, Holmes was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in prison with 3 years of supervised release. She’ll report to prison on April 27, 2023.

Here’s how Holmes went from precocious child, to ambitious Stanford dropout, to an embattled startup founder sentenced to prison: 

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