Who is Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes? Why was she convicted?

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Jan 04, 2022, 05:40 PM(IST)

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes arrives for a hearing at a federal court in San Jose, California Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The verdict came after the eight men and four women on the jury spent three months sitting through a complex trial that featured reams of evidence and 32 witnesses including Holmes herself. She now faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, although legal experts say she is unlikely to receive the maximum sentence.

A court has found Elizabeth Holmes guilty of fraud for turning her Silicon Valley venture, Theranos, into a sophisticated fraud, duping billionaires and other naïve investors into funding an apparently groundbreaking company whose medical technology never worked as Holmes promised. 

Here's all you need to know about Holmes and her fake blood-testing startup: 

Who is Elizabeth Holmes?

Elizabeth Anne Holmes was the founder and CEO of Theranos, a now-defunct health technology company that soared in valuation after the company falsely claimed to have revolutionised blood testing by developing testing methods that could use surprisingly small volumes of blood, such as from a fingerprick. She was found guilty of fraud in 2022. 

Elizabeth Holmes was born in Washington, DC on February 3, 1984.Her mother, Noel Holmes, worked for a Congressional committee, while her father, Christian Holmes, worked for Enron before going to government agencies such as USAID.

When Holmes was a child, her family relocated from Washington, DC to Houston.

What is Theranos?

Theranos was a privately held American health technology company that claimed to have invented blood tests that required very little blood and could be conducted very quickly utilising small automated instruments the company had developed. These allegations, however, were later disproved.

Theranos was founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes, then 19 years old, and raised over US $700 million from venture capitalists and other investors, leading in a $10 billion valuation at its height in 2013 and 2014. 

Fake claims

Theranos' fraud business strategy was built on the premise of performing blood tests with proprietary technology that just required a pinprick in your finger and a tiny bit of blood.

The tests, according to Holmes, will be able to detect diseases such as cancer and high cholesterol. 

Watch | Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes convicted of defrauding investors

The court's decision

A US jury found Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, guilty of misleading investors in the blood testing company, convicting her on four of eleven counts.

Holmes was found guilty of investor fraud and conspiracy, but was found not guilty of three charges of cheating patients who paid for Theranos tests, as well as a related conspiracy allegation.

On three counts involving additional, individual investors, the jury was unable to reach a decision.

When US District Judge Edward Davila sentences her, she risks up to 80 years in jail, although she is expected to receive a considerably lesser sentence.

Holmes was also charged with deceiving patients regarding the accuracy of the tests, but he was found not guilty.

(With inputs from agencies)

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