November 23, 2022 (updated March 1, 2023)
SAN JOSE — Americans love certain criminals.
Nobody really knows how many women serial killer Ted Bundy raped and murdered across seven states from 1974 to 1978. It ranges anywhere from 30 to 100. But mainstream media fawned over Bundy for years, frequently calling him handsome, charming, and smart. Even the judge who sentenced Bundy to death said at the hearing, “take care of yourself. I don’t feel any animosity toward you.” There are nine movies and six television series based on Ted Bundy, including five since 2019.
Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and dismembered at least 17 boys and men from 1978 to 1991. The necrophilia (sex with dead bodies) and cannibalism made him perhaps the creepiest monster in modern human history. It was so bad that Dahmer was beaten to death in prison by Christopher Sarver on November 28, 1994, about three years into his life sentence. The prison guards hated Dahmer just as much as Sarver; so they deliberately left them alone unshackled (or so is alleged).
There have been at least five movies and 16 television series glorifying Dahmer. The most recent one, released on Netflix on October 7, had young girls and homosexual boys treating Dahmer like pop star. That brings us to Elizabeth Holmes.
Elizabeth Holmes didn’t directly rape, kill and/or eat anyone. But there’s no telling how many people she killed indirectly with lies, deceit and pure narcissistic evil during her 15 years as CEO of a fake pharma firm. Holmes was only able to get that far because old, rich, powerful men thought she was cute.
Who is Elizabeth Holmes?
Holmes was born in Washington, D.C. in 1984. Her father is Christian Holmes, the former vice president of Enron (can’t make this stuff up). Her 3x-great grandfather was Charles Louis Fleischmann, who founded Fleischmann’s Yeast Company (owned by Nabisco today) in Cincinnati in 1868.
Holmes was born into wealth and privilege. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese because her parents paid for home tutoring. Holmes told her dad when she was nine years old, “What I really want out of life is to discover something new, something that mankind didn’t know was possible to do.”
She went to high school in Houston before enrolling at Stanford University’s School of Engineering in 2002. Holmes worked at the Genome Institute in Singapore in the summer after her freshman year. She wanted to apply her “lab-on-a-chip” technology she was working on at Stanford. She believed it was a better way to test patients for SARS-CoV-1. Her parents paid prominent law firm McDermott Will & Emery to draft a patent for Holmes’ “Medical device for analyte monitoring and drug delivery” that summer.
Holmes returned to Stanford for one more semester before dropping out at the beginning of 2004, at age 19. During her last semester, she founded Real-Time Cures in Palo Alto, California. Her mission was to “democratize healthcare” by reaping “vast amounts of data from a few droplets of blood derived from the tip of a finger.” A wearable patch would continuously test blood and administer medication in real-time. The company promised a revolutionary blood analyzer that could run hundreds of tests from a single prick in your finger, all from the comfort of your home.
Several experts and professors told Holmes that the idea was technically and otherwise impossible. Even if it were possible, it would have taken 20-plus years and a real CEO leading the charge to realistically make it come to fruition. Holmes eventually convinced Stanford Professor Channing Robertson to back her.
From Real-Time Cures to Theranos
She change the company name to Theranos in early 2004. Holmes believed the word “cures” in Real-Time Cures would turn people off. She also started speaking in that creepy fake baritone voice, and started dressing like Steve Jobs, her idol, in early 2004.
She received her first big investment, $1 million, from venture capitalist and her former neighbor Tim Draper. By the end of 2004, Holmes had conned several more investors, receiving another $5 million.
She was well-connected because of her dad. The Walton’s (Walmart) invested $150 million in Theranos. Rupert Murdoch gave her $125 million, while Betty DeVos invested $100 million. Henry Kissinger, former Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich, former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and the Clintons also invested in the company. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Don Lucas, were Holmes’ advisers. Lucas served as Theranos Chairman of the Board.
All that for a college dropout with absolutely zero experience in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s not like creating software or a social media platform with no college degree, and becoming a billionaire. Holmes simply had a bunch of rich, thirsty old men wrapped around her finger. She was sleeping with at least one of them – Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who she made “second in command” at the company. He had no experience in the pharmaceutical industry either.
Theranos received a total of $1.5 billion in funding by 2015. The company was valued at $9 billion that year. Holmes owned half the stock, and thus was worth $4.5 billion in 2015.
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The evil, unethical behavior started in 2005. Holmes used terminally ill cancer patients as guinea pigs to test the Theranos gadget that she knew didn’t work.
Holmes embellished (lied) on the lab reports to make the machines sound perfect and flawless. She even placed the logos of Pfizer and Norvartis in her reports, without their permission, to convince Walgreens and Safeway to use Theranos products. When Theranos CFO Henry Mosley called out Holmes for her lying in 2006, and told her to stop, she fired him. The company never hired another CFO thereafter.
Safeway and Walgreens created in-store clinics for people to use Theranos blood testing machines. But it was ultimately discovered that the actual blood tests were done on third-party machines, not Theranos machines because Theranos machines didn’t work.
More trouble in paradise
The Richard Fuisz lawsuit was the beginning of the end for Theranos. Fuisz was an entrepreneur and former neighbor of Holmes. Theranos filed a lawsuit against Fuisz and his sons in 2011 for patent infringement. It’s a long, convoluted story. But in May 2013, Fuisz informed Theranos chief scientist Ian Gibbons that he must testify in a deposition since he was listed as co-inventor on nearly all Theranos patents.
Gibbons (pictured above) knew if he told the truth, he’d not only destroy Theranos, but lose his job. He overdosed and died via suicide on May 23, 2013. When Gibbons’ widow informed Holmes of his death, there were no condolences – just a request for her to immediately return his company laptop and any other confidential property. The lawsuit eventually settled. Things got a tad better before everything collapsed for Holmes.
Theranos was four months overdue in delivering their machines to Walgreens stores. The company also provided fake financial forecasts to investors to buy time and keep up the hocus-pocus. And because so many high-profile people were on the Theranos board, investors believed the lies.
A star is born
Holmes rarely made public appearances until 2014, 11 years after the company was founded. She became a celebrity, being a billionaire at age 30.
President Barack Obama made her the Global Ambassador for U.S. Entrepreneurship. Harvard Medical School added Holmes to its Board of Fellows. Holmes exploited her uncle’s cancer death, as an example of how Theranos technology could have possibly saved him. It was later learned that she wasn’t even close to that uncle, hadn’t spoken to or seen him in many years.
John Carreyrou and the end of Theranos
Holmes made a lot of enemies due to the way she treated employees and others. Mr. John Carreyrou was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Richard Fuisz and the widow of Ian Gibbons started leaking information to him about the entire fraudulent scheme that was Theranos in 2015.
Dozens of others followed suit. Mr. Carreyrou published an article on October 15, 2015 that cast public and investor doubt about Theranos. Holmes went directly to Rupert Murdoch, who owns the WSJ, and was on the Theranos board. She asked him to personally kill Carreyrou’s story prior to publishing. But he refused. Holmes went into full damage control mode. She made the rounds on mainstream media talk shows, hoping she could continue lying and everyone would believe her.
The FDA and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did surprise inspections on Theranos labs in late 2015 and 2016. Investors, states, and patients bombarded Holmes and Theranos with lawsuits. The SEC charged Holmes with fraud because she lied to investors and said the U.S. military uses Theranos equipment. The company also lied and said it grossed $100 million in 2014, when it really only made $100,000. Many of the lawsuits were settled out of court. But that left the company and Holmes bankrupt.
Theranos officially shut down in September 2018. Holmes was practically penniless.
Criminal charges, conviction and more manipulation
Holmes and Balwani were indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy, on June 15, 2018. It was a long process that was delayed further due to the so-called pandemic and Holmes getting pregnant. But Holmes, in typical fashion, played the damsel-in-distress role throughout. She blamed Balwani for “dominating” her and forcing her to make decisions against her will.
Holmes also explored an insanity defense. Regardless, the trial started on August 31, 2021 at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California in San Jose. Mattis was the highest-profile witness called to the stand. The evidence was so damning that Holmes ultimately just admitted to a lot of the allegations. But again, she tried manipulating the jury. Holmes testified that she was raped while a student at Stanford; and that’s why she did all this.
The jury, after a 15-week trial, found Holmes guilty on one count of conspiracy and four counts of wire fraud, on January 4, 2022. Balwani was found guilty on all counts. Holmes tried a few more times to get the case dismissed before sentencing, to no avail. But she wasn’t done manipulating. Her sentencing hearing took place on November 18. Holmes showed up with a full baby bump. She was pregnant for a second time. The idea was for the judge to feel sorry for her, and either sentence her to home confinement or a very short prison term. It somewhat worked.
Prosecutors asked for 15 years in prison and $800 million in restitution. Judge Edward Davila sentenced Holmes to 11.25 years in federal prison and a no fines. The cherry on top of all the privilege was Holmes, now 38, getting until April 27, 2023 to surrender to federal authorities. She’ll likely appeal further, and use every tool in the box to delay prison indefinitely.
Theranos is business as usual with big pharma
This blogger worked for several of those “fake it until you make it” tech startups from 2008 to 2016. It’s quite the surreal experience. Senior writers at those firms write all the scripts for videos, all the blog posts, the ad copy, press releases, etc. to keep investors excited and consumers engaged. It’s challenging when you know the company doesn’t really do and/or make what it advertises. These were Theranos-like companies, without screwing around with people’s health.
Mainstream media glorified Holmes as the next Steve Jobs. But she’s literally the female Elon Musk – a talentless spoiled brat who used her parent’s money and her blonde hair to con old, titillated, rich, powerful men out of billions of dollars. It was not surprising to learn in the process of writing this article that Hulu released a miniseries about Holmes and Theranos, starring Amanda Seyfries as Holmes, in March. Just another criminal who harmed victims being glorified.
Theranos is not unique in the pharma realm. Pfizer paid $2.3 billion to settle a criminal case involving the company’s fraudulent marketing of four different drugs. Pfizer paid $430 million in 2004 after it told patients to use a bipolar disorder drug that performed no better than placebos in clinical trials. Yet Pfizer today is completely untouchable and immune from all criticism despite doing the exact same fraud schemes with its mRNA injections.
Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison in 2020 on federal RICO charges. His company deceptively marketed opioids to doctors, including using strippers to convince doctors to prescribe opioids to patients that didn’t need them. Holmes is the second pharma criminal convicted in two years. The precedent exists to punish Pfizer, Moderna and other big Pharma executives for their now-proven fraud related to the injections. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.
Holmes would have been a good politician. She lies with a straight face and cares only about herself. There’s no telling how many people Holmes indirectly killed with her fraudulent medical devices and financial fraud. She showed zero remorse and accepted no responsibility throughout the trial. Holmes is the classic “only in America” tale that proves narcissism and lying are the keys to success and untold riches.
Stay vigilant and protect your friends and loved ones.
UPDATE May 30, 2023 – Elizabeth Holmes finally reports to prison in Texas to serve her 11-year sentence.
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