Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who was once one of the most promising young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, appeared in a San Jose, California, federal court on Monday – moving to have fraud charges filed against her dismissed.
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But she had an equally spectacular fall – a story so dramatic that it has even caught the interest of big film producers in Hollywood.
Here are five things to know about the embattled Silicon Valley entrepreneur:
- Holmes started Theranos at the age of 19. She dropped out of Stanford University to follow her vision of developing a technology that would allow comprehensive blood testing and analysis with a small amount of blood obtained from a prick of a finger.
- The startup took off. At its height, the company was valued at more than $9 billion after raising nearly $900 million from investors, according to The Wall Street Journal. Holmes, who was profiled by Inc. in a 30 under 30 feature, had an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion, according to Forbes. She was one of the world’s youngest self-made female billionaires at the time.
- Then it descended. Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Carreyou began raising questions about the company. Carreyou interviewed more than 150 people, including dozens of former Theranos employees. After the onset of inspections, lawsuits and deals that fell through, the company had less than $200 million at the end of 2016 – less than 25 percent of the amount of cash it had initially raised from investors. Theranos did not generate any revenue in 2015 or 2016.
- The charges. Theranos, Holmes and former president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani agreed to a settlement with the SEC, which alleges that they committed a “massive fraud” in lying about one of the company’s key products. In addition, Holmes was stripped of control of the company and is barred from serving as an officer or director at any public company for the next decade. She was forced to return to investors 18.9 million shares, which the SEC said were obtained through fraud, and paid a $500,000 penalty. Holmes and Balwani were charged with raising more than $700 million from investors through a fraudulent scheme that took place over the course of years. Holmes and Balwani were indicted by a grand jury in June, which they are still defending themselves against. The trial is scheduled to take place in August.
- Hollywood jumps on board. In May 2018, following the SEC news, publisher Alfred A. Knopf fast-tracked the release of "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup," the book written by Carreyrou. The book, which chronicles the downfall of the health care company, is set to be turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, as first reported in Deadline. The movie will be produced by Legendary, the studio behind such films as “Interstellar,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “300” and “The Hangover.”