Elizabeth Holmes: 11 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Convicted Billionaire

Published January 9th, 2022 - 05:00 GMT
Elizabeth Holmes
Former Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes at the Robert F. Peckham U.S. Federal Court on June 28, 2019 in San Jose, California. (JUSTIN SULLIVANGETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICAGetty Images via AFP)

Only a few years ago, Elizabeth Holmes was featured in the world's leading business magazines as the "next Steve Jobs".  Her face was almost referred to as the symbol for innovation, exceptional success, and extraordinary scientific merit.

Yet, Elizabeth Holmes, who has just been convicted of several charges of criminal fraud, is now the example of disappointment, deception, and pseudoscience.

How much do you know about Elizabeth Holmes besides the infamous Theranos? 

Elizabeth Holmes
AFP - Former Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes (L) waits for an elevator after arriving for court at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building September 17, 2021.

Facts you didn't know about Elizabeth Holmes

1. Accompanying their father on his travels abroad, Holmes and her brother were fascinated by the Chinese language and learned it as early as the age of 9.

2. Teenage Holmes was highly interested in programming that she was able to make money by selling C++ compilers to Chinese universities, after realizing they were far behind the American education system in terms of technology.

3. In 2002, Holmes was enrolled in the Chemical Engineering program at Stanford University, but she dropped out in March 2003 to start her own business.

4. Using the money her parents had saved for her higher education, Elizabeth Holmes founded the company Real-Time Cures, saying that the purpose of her business was to "democratize healthcare".

5. Elizabeth Holmes attributed her interest in "developing tools that can drive blood out of fingertips" to her fear of needles.

6. The main idea behind Elizabeth Holmes' Real-Time Cures (later renamed Theranos) was that a vast amount of data related to human health can be analyzed using a few blood droplets, including information that could predict chronic diseases. 

Elizabeth Holmes
 AFP -  Elizabeth Holmes (L) and Alan Murray speak at the Fortune Global Forum at the Fairmont Hotel on November 2, 2015.


7. Most of Elizabeth Holmes' professors at Stanford University were reluctant to back up her business idea, saying that what she was after "was not going to work". Yet, she still secured the support of her then-advisor and dean at the School of Engineering, Channing Robertson.

Elizabeth Holmes
AFP - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks as Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos in 2015.


8. Elizabeth Holmes was able to make deep connections throughout Silicone Valley and Washington, DC, receiving investments and public support from major names, including business mogul Rupert Murdoch (who lost $120 million in Theranos), in addition to politicians such as Henry Kissinger, Betsy DeVos, William Perry, James Mattis.

Elizabeth Holmes also appeared on the same stage as former US President Bill Clinton during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York in September 2015.

Elizabeth Holmes

9. Besides being dubbed as the "next Steve Jobs", Elizabeth Holmes was named the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2014 by Forbes. She was 30 years old only and was worth $4.5 billion at that time.

10. Elizabeth Holmes had worked hard on building the character she showed to the public before her troubles began. Her former colleagues and friends talked about her emulating Steve Jobs' style on purpose to claim a similar status in the world. She is also said to have planned to recruit Apple employees in her business on purpose.

They also explained that she "changes her voice during public talks to sound lower and deeper" than it actually is. 

11. After Theranos' troubles became a topic of public discussion, it was revealed that Holmes was secretly dating her business partner Ramesh Balwani. Holmes now accuses Balwani of "a pattern of emotional and sexual abuse throughout the relationship".

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