Former Theranos Founder, Elizabeth Holmes, is to go on trial

The former CEO & Founder of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, will go on trial on 31 August 2021. Holmes is charged with 2 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 9 counts of wire fraud, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Theranos was a Silicon Valley blood testing startup that was once valued at $9 billion.

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Nicole Stratton
August 20, 2021 10:41 am

When the Theranos trial was originally scheduled for March 2021, I wrote about the possibility of Elizabeth Holmes having a mental diagnosis. It was reportedly a route she was exploring that could exonerate her from the charges of fraud. The more we learn about Theranos and her peculiar behavior, we are in no doubt she was lacking in the morals department. Firing staff on the spot, continuing to give inaccurate blood test results to patients, and lying to investors.

Then we move into very strange territory. Imitating Steve Jobs, deliberately deepening her voice, partying at Burning Man while ironically Theranos was burning. In July the trial was postponed because it was reported that Elizabeth Holmes was pregnant. So how do we process this? It could be a cleverly calculated move that she hopes will give her sympathy from the judge and jury. It could play on their mind that if Holmes is put away for many years, it is the child that will grow up without a mother.

If we look at this from the perspective of Holmes’ thought process, what is she thinking!? This is where we get closer to a diagnosis of sociopathy. She could be put away for 20 years. How could you fathom having a child when there is a real possibility of going to prison for that long? John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal investigative journalist who brought the Theranos scandal to mainstream attention, says Holmes has shown no empathy:

She has shown zero sign of feeling bad, or expressing sorrow, or admitting wrongdoing, or saying sorry to the patients whose lives she endangered.

If only Theranos’ Edison machine could detect mental conditions with a tiny drop of blood.

Rayan Tanwar
August 22, 2021 11:47 am

In the mind of Elizabeth Holmes there can be only one outcome to this trial. She will be found not guilty on all counts of fraud. There is no other possibility. The evidence will show that there was nothing wrong with her blood testing technology and the failure of the company was the fault of Theranos staff and the media. Holmes’s name will be cleared and she will be free to start another billion dollar company that will take over the world.

What other possibility could there be for someone who knew Theranos’s blood test results weren’t consistent but went on TV to say, “This is what happens when you work to change things. First they think you’re crazy and then they fight you, and then all of a sudden you change the world”? What other possibility could there be for someone who was so confident of her success that she dropped out of Stanford University and raised $400 million? What other possibility could there be for the first self-made female billionaire who was invited to share her brilliance with people like Bill Clinton and Jack Ma?

In the mind of Elizabeth Holmes, if this is a truly fair trial, then she has nothing to worry about. Or does she? Perhaps Elizabeth Holmes is worried. Perhaps she knows there’s more to be uncovered even though the house of cards collapsed several years ago. Maybe it’s time to use the same tactics Theranos used when it tried to silence its detractors. The ace up her sleeve is evidence of bias. There’s no question Elizabeth Holmes has received a lot of attention in the media and online. We’re writing about her now, aren’t we? The jury has to be objective. Even the slightest hint of bias should be pounced upon. Hence a questionnaire of 112 questions Holmes’s team want jurors to answer.

They want to know if you have been married before, and if so, how many times. What kind of jobs has your significant other had in the past? Supposedly this is a relevant question pertaining to the trial. To give you an idea of the granularity of evidence they want, the questionnaire asks if you have ever “liked” a post about Elizabeth Holmes on social media. The intrusiveness of the questionnaire is perplexing and way too much, but strangely feels normal when comparing it to previous Theranos tactics; hiring private investigators, threatening whistle-blowers, reading internal staff emails.

A lot has been written about what is going on in the mind of Elizabeth Holmes. Among much speculation, the real answer is that none of us really know what she is thinking, and all we can expect for this trial is the unexpected.

Josh Wright
August 22, 2021 5:06 pm

The Theranos trial will be an opportunity for Elizabeth Holmes to do what she does best. That is, go on a charm offensive to get the result she wants. It is difficult to grasp how good she is at this and how regularly she could tie people around her finger. George Shultz, William Perry, Jim Mattis, Henry Kissinger. It is remarkable she could get such high level backing and investment for technology that hadn’t been proven. To have extraordinary people backing her, she would have used extraordinary capability. Not so much scientific or technological capability, but a capability to woo people.

In 2008 the Theranos board agreed to remove Elizabeth Holmes as CEO after she had made some unrealistic revenue projections. The board concluded that she was too young and inexperienced to be running a company of Theranos’ size. When they revealed their decision to Elizabeth, she went on a charm offensive that made them change their minds and preserved her spot at the helm of the company.

Tyler Shultz, the grandson of board member George Shultz and later a whistleblower, has spoken about how when Elizabeth Holmes spoke to you, she made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. When Tyler would have some doubts about the tech, Elizabeth would speak to him and he would be supercharged with motivation, ready to change the world (Source: Thicker than Water, Tyler Shultz).

Elizabeth would often use the passing of her uncle to convey the importance of early testing, and she would do this with sadness and tears in her eyes. She sounded very genuine and could turn sceptics into believers of the Theranos vision. It would also be hard not to get swept along in the wave of enthusiasm as Elizabeth instilled among her own staff that Theranos was the next big thing.

Elizabeth’s persuasive abilities and charm were so powerful that it became a running joke in the Theranos office. Tyler Shultz recounts a story in his audiobook about some staff seeing her walking in the office with an older man. On staff member remarked, “There goes someone’s inheritance”.

Robert Huot
August 20, 2021 4:22 pm

The Theranos trial will have everything. Witnesses include:

  • Jim Mattis – former US Secretary of Defense;
  • Henry Kissinger – former US Secretary of State;
  • Rupert Murdoch – billionaire Chairman of Fox Corporation;
  • David Boies – Chairman of law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner.

Elizabeth Holmes has pleaded not guilty to defrauding business partners, patients and investors. We can see her defense is trying every trick in the book to give her the edge.

Celebrity Status
Elizabeth Holmes was living a lavish lifestyle during the peak of Theranos. Private jet, a mansion in Los Altos, California, and luxurious 5 star hotels. Her legal team wanted to prevent prosecutors from making reference to her glamorous lifestyle because it could, they argue, cause ‘class bias’ among the jury. Now her team are asking for permission to quiz the jury to see if there is any evidence of bias that could have resulted from all the media attention Holmes has been receiving.

Destroying Evidence
Prosecutors say Theranos executives destroyed a database of evidence that proved their blood test results were inaccurate. The Theranos defense team has fired back blaming the incompetency of the government for losing these crucial files. But prosecutors say there are internal Theranos emails that prove they tried to destroy evidence.

No Mask
Elizabeth Holmes’s defense team don’t want her to wear a mask, used to help stop the spread of coronavirus. It is thought this is a symbolic gesture, showing to prosecutors and the media that she has nothing to hide.

No Patient Testimonies
Holmes’s team tried to prevent former Theranos patients from being witnesses at the trial. This will be some of the most damning evidence against Theranos. Because the blood test results were so inaccurate, patients who were healthy received results saying they were at risk of different diseases. Aside from the psychological shock this would have caused, it could have led people to take improper medication. Conversely those who were at risk of health conditions were told they were healthy, and thus didn’t take any action to remedy the risks. No wonder the defense team want to silence patient testimonies.