Imagine a world where with one prick of a finger, followed by a drop of blood, analysed by a tiny little machine, you’d be able to find out whether you suffer from any medical conditions in an instant, so to speak. Sounds like a far-off dream, doesn’t it?

Well, one woman, Elizabeth Holmes, thought she could sell that dream; thought that she could hide the truth about her despicable lies. 

Elizabeth was a drop-out from Standford university in America, and she used her beauty and brains to come up with the craziest lie. She made the rich and famous believe that she would change the world by creating life-changing technology.


Elizabeth started her company called Theranos, a blood testing company, with her then-partner, Sunny Balwani, who was 20 years older. She claimed that she, along with the company’s technology, would change the way we do blood tests forever. 

The idea was that Edison –  the name of the life-changing blood-testing device – would be available in every pharmacy and hospital to help save thousands of people’s lives. Except the device was not possible, we are nowhere near that sort of technology. 

Elizabeth set her sights on the wealthy people of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is in Northern California and is said to be the global centre for technology and innovation. Having your name associated with Silicon Valley gives you an immediate step up and gives you a certain persona. 

According to Forbes, “Theranos raised more than $700 million from investors, including from billionaires Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison –  they valued the company at $9 billion.”  

“Forbes named Holmes the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire – worth $4.5 billion  –  in 2014 when she was 30 years old.”

To appeal to the cutthroat tech industry, Elizabeth was dubbed the female version of Steve Jobs, the former Apple CEO. She wore black turtle necks just as Steve Jobs did. Elizabeth even went as far as to deepen her voice to sound more like a man. 

Elizabeth’s story is so controversial and widely spoken about that a mini-series, The Dropout, was created based on her. Famous actress Amanda Seyfried plays the lead as Elizabeth. 

Inaccurate test results

According to an in-depth article by Entrepreneur, “Theranos’s business model was based on the idea that it could run blood tests, using proprietary technology that required only a finger pinprick and a small amount of blood. Holmes said the tests would be able to detect medical conditions like cancer and high cholesterol.”

Erin Tompkins, a witness in the case against Elizabeth, used Theranos as a way to get a blood test, but in utter disbelief, her results came back saying that she had HIV, which she actually didn’t. 

Another case involved a woman, Brittany Gould, who also used Theranos, and her results were inaccurate too. The device said that she had miscarried. After consulting with a different lab, it was determined that the woman did not miscarry, and she delivered a healthy baby in the end. 

Naturally, if one is diagnosed with the wrong results and takes the wrong medication, that could lead to more serious issues in the long haul. Or, in the case of the woman who “miscarried”, that could have so many emotional repercussions. 

The fall of Theranos

In 2015, journalist John Carreyrou, published his findings on the troubles that Theranos was facing and the problems it had with technology. 

According to Entrepreneur, “Carreyrou found that Theranos’ blood-testing machine couldn’t give accurate results, so Theranos was running its samples through the same machines used by traditional blood-testing companies.” 

After the release of Carreyrou’s findings, other companies started questioning the legitimacy of the Edison device. 

Where is Elizabeth Holmes now?

It is not known where Elizabeth Holmes currently is, but according to Entrepreneur publication, “If convicted, both Holmes and Balwani could face up to 20 years in prison and a more than $2.7 million fine, the U.S. government has said.”

The life lesson 

Don’t believe everything you hear and see. Do your research, and ask questions. Don’t sit back and let people walk all over you. And don’t aim for get-rich-quick schemes as a way to earn your money. Rather work hard and smart; it always pays off in the end. 

Remember, lies always come out in the end, so be open and honest.


Read more here about why the poor are paying for the sins of the rich.

Tell us: Why do you think Elizabeth got away with this lie for so long?