Elizabeth Holmes, former chief executive of the blood-testing startup Theranos, was sentenced on Friday to more than 11 years in federal prison for her role in defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Elizabeth Holmes is known for promising the world a medical revolution. At 19, she claimed to have invented a miniaturised machine that would map a person’s health from a single drop of blood. She claimed that her technology meant serious diseases like cancer would be prevented before they happened.
Theranos was hailed as a revolutionary idea thought up by a woman who styled herself as a female Steve Jobs. Holmes soon became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire, and Theranos was one of Silicon Valley’s fastest rising unicorn startups, valued at an estimated USD 9 billion.
High-profile investors rushed to pour a fortune into Holmes’ company, and she became Silicon Valley’s first self-made female billionaire.
As Theranos started to rake in millions of funding, Holmes became the subject of media attention and acclaim in the tech world. She graced the covers of Fortune and Forbes, gave a TED Talk, and spoke on panels with Bill Clinton and Alibaba’s Jack Ma.
However her invention simply didn’t work.
In 2015, investigators discovered that Theranos had been falsifying results to con the world into believing its effectiveness. The machine hailed to be the next medical technology breakthrough was no more than a box with a flashy screen, and the real blood test results were done in a back room with a traditional blood testing machine.
Holmes admitted in court that she added some pharmaceutical companies’ logos without authorization to Theranos’ reports. Investors previously said they took some reassurance in those reports because, based on the logos, they thought major pharmaceutical companies had validated Theranos’ technology.
Holmes was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for multiple charges of financial fraud.
Holmes’ former romantic and business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was also convicted of fraud, in July. He was found guilty on all 12 fraud-related charges.
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