Elizabeth Holmes Speaks for herself


Who exactly to blame for the dramatic collapse of the founders of the Theranos blood test? Is it Elizabeth Holmes, the founding director of the girls’ office, who faces him 11 cases of wire fraud because of money laundering? Or with employees of the company, who signed various reports showing that the technology did well? What about members of the Theranos committee — such as George Shultz, James Mattis, and Henry Kissinger — who were paid thousands of dollars to provide direction to the company? Or is it Ramesh Balwani, a businessman of Holmes and an old friend, who by contrast faces 11 counts of fraud?

Any of these ideas have been investigated in the last few days, as Holmes stood 11 weeks in a case that has plagued Silicon Valley and beyond. This is the first time he has told his story since Theranos closed in 2018, the same year he was charged with fraud.

Holmes began his testimony Friday afternoon, prompting a large crowd to appear outside the court on Monday and Tuesday morning. Spectators began to stand at 2 a.m. this week, trembling as they waited for one of the few seats in the San Jose Courthouse. The crowd was filled with journalists, concerned citizens, and one person who shouted “God bless you, lady!” as Holmes arrived Tuesday. “The crater has never seen such a commercial fraud,” says historian Margaret O’Mara, who compared the incident to the first iPhone release. Holmes benefited from hype when his company began operating in the early 2000s. Now, they find themselves in a different kind of hype cycle.

As a young CEO, Holmes often portrays himself as an amazing person. He appeared on the cover of the magazine and received a compliment from Steve Jobs. But in court, Holmes – now 37 years old, and no longer wearing the well-known black turtles – emphasized the aspects of his work that he gave to others.

When asked who was responsible for making sure the blood test worked as promised, Holmes referred to Adam Rosendorff, Theranos’ lab manager. The unfortunate alliance with Walgreens came down to Daniel Young, the “most intelligent” worker Holmes put in charge of. The undisclosed assumption that Theranos sometimes uses third-party weapons was fabricated by the company’s attorney, who Holmes said told him the information was “a trade secret.” Balwani, not Holmes, was in charge of the company’s finances. And the popular ad, does it mean that Theranos only used “one drop of blood”? Holmes testified that he did not personally sign any of the advertisements made by Chiat Day, a low-cost advertising company he hired.

Such accusations are common in the criminal justice system, says David Sklansky, a Stanford lawmaker. “It is probably the most common form of self-defense in cases of gross fraud,” he said. “Whether it works or not depends on how it looks to the judges.”



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