Elizabeth Holmes faces moment of reckoning for Theranos blood testing scandal

Telegraph 12 May 2021 08:00

When Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes came walking through the office, employees would mutter “E is coming”, under their breath.

“We didn’t want to say her name out loud,” says Cheryl Gafner, a former receptionist at the biotechnology company. “It was like Beetlejuice - if you said it three times then s*** would happen.”

Perhaps workers were onto something. Holmes, who Gafner once joked was “hatched out of a pod” due to her cold demeanour, could face up to 20 years in prison for allegedly lying to investors, doctors and patients about the limits of Theranos’ technology. 

“There’s nothing quite like Elizabeth Holmes’ case because there’s nothing quite like Silicon Valley,” says Danny Cevallos, a criminal lawyer who appears on MSNBC and NBC News. 

Once billed as the "female Steve Jobs" for founding a $9bn (£6.37bn) startup that promised to revolutionise the lab test industry, the 37-year-old’s story has become a cautionary tale among entrepreneurs.

Holmes and former Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani stand accused by the US government of lying about Theranos’ ability to produce accurate test results from tiny amounts of blood, a deceit that cost investors and put patients in harm’s way.

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HolmesElizabeth HolmesTheranosBalwaniGafner