The trial of Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of the multi-billion dollar startup Theranos, started Tuesday.
Holmes, and her colleague and former romantic partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, are currently charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charges stem from allegations the two were involved in a scheme to defraud doctors, patients and investors by marketing faulty blood tests, putting lives at risk and losing billions of dollars of venture capital, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Holmes is being tried first. Balwani’s trial is set to start in January of 2022.
Elizabeth Holmes: a Silicon Valley visionary and fantasy
Holmes was once known as the youngest female self-made billionaire, who modeled herself after Steve Jobs, adopting his signature black turtlenecks as part of her own style.
Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to start her own medical diagnostics company. According to “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Startup” – a book written about Holmes by John Carreyrou, the reporter who exposed her – Holmes’ winning pitch was that a pinprick of blood could be used to run dozens of tests on the machines they developed, helping people detect life-threatening conditions earlier.
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Her vision drew in top talent from Stanford as well as powerful investors such as Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle; Rupert Murdoch, billionaire media mogul; the Walton family, who founded Walmart; and Betsy DeVos, the former education secretary under President Trump.
Theranos grew into a company with over 800 employees, a $9 billion valuation, and a laboratory space in a suburb of Silicon Valley.