Rise and Fall of Theranos Founder Convicted of Fraud

  • 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.
  • Now, Holmes is requesting a new trial after a key witness claimed he felt bad about his testimony.

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.

As she awaited trial, Holmes reportedly found the time to get engaged — and married — to a hotel heir named Billy Evans.

Holmes has since been convicted of fraud in federal court. In January, jurors 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.

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

Since her conviction, Holmes has become the subject of a Hulu limited series, “The Dropout,” based on the ABC News podcast of the same name. The show stars Amanda Seyfried as Holmes as it chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of Theranos and Holmes herself.

Holmes has asked the presiding judge in her case to overturn her conviction. In a filing on May 27, Holmes’ attorneys argued evidence was “insufficient to sustain the convictions.”

“Because no rational juror could have found the elements of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud beyond a reasonable doubt on this record, the Court should grant Ms. Holmes’ motion for judgment of acquittal,” they wrote. 

In early September, a judge tentatively denied Holmes’ request to overturn her fraud conviction. Since then, Holmes has also requested a new trial, alleging in court filings that a key witness showed up to her house and said he felt guilty that his testimony could have contributed to her conviction. 

Holmes’ sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for October 17. 

Here’s how Holmes went from precocious child, to ambitious Stanford dropout, to an embattled startup founder convicted of fraud: