More than 11 years in prison: this is the sentence imposed on former Silicon Valley star Elizabeth Holmes for fraud in the management of her startup Theranos, which promised a revolution in diagnostics in the medical field.
The businessman has been taking risks for up to 20 years. The prosecution asked for 15 months, while the defense proposed a maximum of 18 months.
Last January, a jury found her liable on four counts and acquitted her of four counts of defrauding patients, which is difficult to prove because the company’s former CEO did not communicate directly with them, unlike it did with investors, raising more than $900. million. Among them are high-profile names such as Rupert Murdoch, software mogul Larry Ellison, family members of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founders of Walmart.
The prosecution described her as a charlatan obsessed with fame and fortune. Instead, she testified for seven days portraying herself as a visionary pioneer in the male-dominated world of Silicon Valley, and as a woman sexually and emotionally abused by her ex-lover and business partner Sunny Balwani, whom she inappropriately blamed. Holmes had dropped out of Stanford University after her freshman year to found her own company in 2003. The winning idea was to propose a faster, cheaper, and less painful technology to detect hundreds of diseases, from cancer to diabetes, by drawing a few drops of blood with a needle from the tip of a finger rather than from a syringe from the arm. It is unfortunate that the machine, named Edison, did not work as promised.
But in the meantime, many have invested in his Theranos and small ubiquitous labs, particularly in the Walgreens and Safeway chains. The company was valued at nearly $10 billion. Holmes focused heavily on public relations, and featured on his board figures of the caliber of former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former Secretaries of Defense James Mattis and William Perry, and former Wells Fargo CEO Richard Kovacevich. The director also courted Bill Clinton and impressed then-Vice President Joe Biden, who visited her labs in 2015.
Such was her rise that Ink magazine dubbed her “the next Steve Jobs” – whom she admired and emulated – while Forbes called her “the world’s youngest self-made billionaire” and Time magazine included her in their list of most influential billionaires. people on the planet in 2015.
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