According to USA Today, Holmes, 34, hailed as the “next Steve Jobs” by Inc. for her innovation and black turtleneck uniform, raised more than $700 million between 2013 and 2015 while allegedly “deceiving investors by making it appear as if Theranos had successfully developed a commercially ready portable blood analyzer” that could perform many lab tests cheaply, using only a small blood sample. Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 at age 19 after dropping out of Stanford University.
The Theranos testing machine was called “Edison” — named after the American inventor — and its details were secretive. After the Wall Street Journal ran a story in 2015 that quoted employees voicing doubts about the legitimacy of Edison and reported that Theranos only used its all-star technology for a small number of tests (using routine blood testing for the majority), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched an investigation, resulting in Theranos’s blood testing license being revoked.
To settle Wednesday’s charges, Holmes will pay a $500,000 penalty, is banned from holding an executive role at a public company for a period of 10 years, and must return nearly 19 million shares. The SEC also charged former Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who is Holmes’s ex-boyfriend.
Holmes is taking a beating on social media, where many blasted the CEO — once ranked by Forbes as the youngest female self-made billionaire — as an example of white privilege for her so-called lenient punishment and as a failed female CEO, of which there are only 32 in America.
I ended up working, unknowingly, for a few scam tech companies/vaporware companies in the 90s and I can confirm that the CEOs were always extremely good liars/con men/women. This Elizabeth Holmes story is not surprising. https://t.co/EurSCgC9lj
— Snake Plisskenish (@_CrotalusAtrox_) March 14, 2018
— JoeyJoJo Jr Shabadoo (@Real_LionelHutz) March 14, 2018
Elizabeth Holmes is 34 and she's already ruined her life…but having spent some time with her I wouldn't be surprised if she pulls a rabbit out of a hat eventually…she's a sociopath but like many sociopaths very charming and very smart. pic.twitter.com/8mEi590XsW
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) March 14, 2018
I am huge fan of female CEOs like Indra Nooyi & Sheryl Sandberg, but investors failed to scrutinize Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes' claims @cnbc
— Bill George (@Bill_George) April 14, 2016
As a feminist, it's my duty to support Elizabeth Holmes's fraudulent cartoon villain blood company and Steve Jobs cosplay. To do any less would be to stand on the wrong side of herstory!!
— bea (@_beatricek) March 14, 2018
The scrutiny mirrors that of Gina Haspel, a longtime CIA employee who, on Tuesday, was named the agency’s first female director. While Haspel’s promotion was largely celebrated as a win for women, her victory was overshadowed by her controversial past overseeing the detainment and torture of terrorist suspects.
Holmes may have broken the glass ceiling, but she doesn’t represent women’s achievement.
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