Elizabeth Holmes: The rise and fall of the Theranos founder

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Holmes was accused of defrauding investors and patients. 
  • She claimed Theranos' technology could run a wide range of tests on a single drop of blood.
  • She faces up to 80 years in prison but will probably get a less severe sentence.

A jury in the United States has found Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty of conspiring to defraud investors in the blood testing startup, convicting her on four of 11 counts.

Holmes, 37, was accused of defrauding investors and patients with her claims of revolutionising lab testing with a machine that used a single drop of blood. She pleaded not guilty.

Here is a timeline of the key events that led to Monday’s verdict.


Holmes, then just 19 years old, drops out of Stanford University to set up Real-Time Cures, the company that will eventually become Theranos. She dreams of revolutionising diagnostic testing.


The new company raises more than $6m in funding, reaching a valuation of $30 million.


Holmes' then-partner Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani joins Theranos as chief operating officer.


Theranos raises a further $45m in funding, reaching a valuation of $1 billion.


Theranos begins attracting high-profile board members, including two former US secretaries of state, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger.


The company moves to the former Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California.


Theranos begins promoting its technology, claiming to be able to run a wide range of tests on a single drop of blood using a machine called the Edison, and enters into a partnership with pharmacy group Walgreens Boots Alliance.


Having raised more than $400 million, Theranos is valued at more than $9 billion. Holmes is recognised by Forbes as a billionaire – a reflection of her stake in the company.

February 2015

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association criticises Theranos for failing to publish any of its research in peer-reviewed journals.

July 2015

Theranos wins US Food and Drug Administration approval for a test to detect the herpes simplex 1 virus.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live (WSJDLive) conference at the Montage hotel in Laguna Beach, California, October 21, 2015.

October 2015

The Wall Street Journal reports that Theranos uses its technology for only a small number of its tests, and that employees doubt their accuracy.

The FDA subsequently releases a finding that the company used unapproved devices for tests.

January 2016

The US Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) releases a report that one of the company’s facilities presents "jeopardy to patient health and safety."

The agency said an inspection revealed that the facility did not meet its own quality-control standards, including not properly calibrating equipment.

June 2016

Walgreens ends its relationship with Theranos.

October 2016

Partner Fund Management, which invested nearly $100 million in Theranos, sues the company for securities fraud, claiming it lied about its technology to secure the investment. The case is later settled.

April 2017

Theranos reaches a deal with CMS barring it from the blood-testing business for two years.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building with her defense team on August 31, 2021 in San Jose, California. Holmes is on trial after being indicted on multiple counts of fraud for misrepresenting her company'

March 2018

The US Securities and Exchange Commission charges Theranos, Holmes and Balwani with securities fraud. Holmes is stripped of her stake in and control of the company.

June 2018

Holmes and Balwani are indicted on criminal fraud charges. Both plead not guilty.

September 2018

Theranos announces that it will dissolve.

March 2021

Holmes reveals she is pregnant.

August 2021

Holmes gives birth to her child. A court filing reveals that Holmes plans to argue she was under the control of Balwani, who she says was abusive, at the time of the charged crimes. Balwani denies the allegations in court filings.

September 2021

Trial begins in San Jose, California.

November 2021

Holmes takes the stand to testify in her own defence. She denies seeking to mislead investors and patients. She says Balwani was in charge of financial models provided to investors and that he was abusive in their relationship.

Elizabeth Holmes and partner Billy Evans, walk outside the federal court after she was found guilty on 4 of 11 accounts faced in her fraud trial in San Jose.

December 2021

Jurors hear closing argument from both sides.

January 3, 2022

Holmes convicted on charges of defrauding three other investors, as well as conspiring to do so. She was acquitted on three counts of defrauding patients who paid for tests from Theranos, and a related conspiracy charge.

The jury could not reach a decision on three counts related to individual investors. A sentencing date was not immediately set. She faces up to 80 years in prison when sentenced by US District Judge Edward Davila but will probably get a less severe sentence.

Did you know you can listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Do you think the wardens deployed across Gauteng will make a dent in curbing crime?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, proper policing is needed
79% - 4470 votes
Yes, anything will help at this point
21% - 1222 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.