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Elizabeth Holmes Once a Youngest Billionaire Now a Convict; Here’s What She Did

The Dropout on Hulu is based on the shocking true story of the disgraced former CEO of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes. At a certain point, the young entrepreneur was the youngest self-made billionaire in the whole world, a true inspiration for many young women. Till the reality behind her words was unveiled. Her scandalous story has been as been revealed through countless means including books, podcasts, documentaries, and now via Hulu’s latest series The Dropout featuring Amanda Seyfried. 

Though the series is trying to follow the podcast version closely. But there are naturally few alterations in the eight-episode long series to make it more creatively palatable for the audience. Here’s the full story of Elizabeth Holmes with correct facts.

Who’s Elizabeth Holmes?

The GirlBoss was an American businesswoman, who founded the medical diagnostic company Theranos Inc in 2003, landing a first major cover at Forbes magazine. She was born on February 3, 1984, in Washington, D.C.
Always having a keen interest in computer programming, the young prodigy started by selling C++ compilers to Chinese universities during her Highschool. She started learning Mandarin Chinese at home, and partway through high school, Holmes enrolled in Standford University’s summer Mandarin program. Later she joined Stanford, where she studied chemical engineering and worked as a student researcher under prestigious scientist Channing Robertson, who compared her on the level of Einstein.

How did she manage the funding for “Real-Time Cures”?

At the age of 19, Elizabeth dropped out of Stanford’s chemical engineering program to start up her own company. Holmes propositioned her parents, Christian Rasmus Holmes IV and Noel Anne, to invest the money on her new business idea, “Real-Time Cures” aka Theranos, instead of her further studies, and surprisingly enough her parents agreed.
Though the young prodigy always wanted to run her own business. Her decision to leave the program was partially influenced by the sexual assault that happened with her on Stanford’s campus in 2003. She mentioned it for the first time in her court testimony in 2021, which she did report to the Santa Clara County officer in 2003.
The money from her tuition fee was enough to rent a small budget company in a cheap space for some time. She set up her own office in Burlingame, which is home to frequent shootings, however, luckily she moved to a different location later.
Apart from $30k from her parents, she raised around $6 million from her family friends during the first round of funding. Later Holmes was able to deceive high-profile investors like the family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Rupert Murdoch, and the Walton family of Walmart fame and raised an evaluation of $945 million for her company, Theranos.

Wardrobe to Voice change

In an interview with Elle, the newly appointed designer, Ana Arriola, suggested she “dress more like a CEO.”

“She had this kind of spunky, frumpy Christmas sweater attire… It’s literally like… Stuff you see that has pixel art poorly done.” Holmes took her advice to upgrade her style but instead of picking “couture” as Ana suggested, she went specifically for the “iconic” style of Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs in black turtlenecks.

Arriola and Holmes’ relationship took a sour turn when Ana disagreed with Holmes to work on testing cancer patients with unfinished and inaccurate devices and resigned from her position within four months.

According to one of her ex-employee, Greg Baney, who once heard her natural voice, the young entrepreneur forged her voice to be taken more seriously in a male-dominated Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, her initial employees told ABC radio that they can’t exactly pinpoint when she started lowering her voice, but in the company’s initial day she used to speak in her high-pitched natural voice.

Holmes’ art of convincing people “without a working” prototype

In case you have watched the series, you might have come across a scene, where during a product demonstration for Novartis in Switzerland the product doesn’t seem to work, thus they faked the results. Well according to an employee, Shaunak Roy, the company indeed forged the result in case the machine didn’t work.

Holmes also tricked Don Lucas, an investor of big companies like Oracle, Macromedia, and more, to invest in her company even without having a working prototype. As a doting grand-figure, he trusted her but hired a pharmaceutical expert Diana Parks to look after Theranos as a Chief Commercial Officer. Park soon realized the truth that Elizabeth claimed proprietary blood-testing technology, never worked. Her so claimed revolutionized blood testing prototypes, which works on small volumes of blood were full of lies and deceit.

Friendship-turned-romance btw Ramesh Balwani & Elizabeth Holmes

The teen Elizabeth participated in the Mandarin program thrice in her Highschool, though she met the 30 plus old, Ramesh Sunny Balwani in the last one. Holmes, who was struggling to make friends there, was saved by warm-natured Ramesh Singh Balwani in 2002.

Ramesh was married to a Japanese artist Keiko Fujimoto at that time, but soon both split up and took divorce around in 2004. But it’s still not clear whether or not they were having an extra-marital affair around at that time. Holmes later moved in with Ramesh Balwani.

The whistleblower on Theranos

Though Ana and Holmes’s relationship turned sour, she wasn’t the only one who was dissatisfied with Elizabeth’s forgery. After she left the company, soon another staff followed her footstep and end up resigning too.

Fortunately “Tevanian” finally opened his eyes and dig up the truth and brought the documents that proved how Theranos and its investors are in unavoidable trouble, but instead of looking up facts the doting grandfather, Lucas blind-trusted Elizabeth and ask Tevanian to resign from the company. How Elizabeth managed to persuade the chairman i.e., Lucas and the rest of the members of the board team is truly an art.

But in 2015, her words couldn’t add any worth and things started to fall apart, and less than a year, Holmes was exposed as a fake. The technology she touted to everyone didn’t work at all as she claimed. She’s convicted on four of the 11 charges she was accused of. She is now awaiting sentencing in court.


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