January brought us two Fyre Festival documentaries, and this month in documentaries about fraud, we have HBO's The Inventor, about Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. The health technology company has ceased to exist and now there's an entire movie being made about its founder, so where is Elizabeth Holmes in 2019?
Well, the story of her rise and fall has not yet reached its conclusion. Holmes is current facing 20 years in prison, but her case has not yet gone to trial. Back in June 2018, Holmes and former Theranos president Ramesh Balwani were indicted on wire fraud charges, per The New York Times. They are accused of defrauding their investors of hundreds of millions of dollars and defrauding patients and doctors. According to CNN, they were charged with "two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud." Holmes and Balwani both pleaded not guilty. CNN also reported that Holmes and Balwani face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250K fine, and restitution for each count of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
If you're interested in the film but don't know much about Holmes or Theranos, here are the basics: As reported by ABC News, Holmes started Theranos (a combo of "therapy" and "diagnostics") in 2003 when she was only 19 years old. She'd dropped out of Stanford University with an idea to create technology that could run numerous blood tests using only a small amount of blood. (Basically, the amount of blood from a finger prick test as compared to the amount taken from a venipuncture blood draw.) This would completely change healthcare as tests could be done quicker, easier, and cheaper, meaning more people could have access to the information blood tests can provide.
Holmes was able to secure investors, and at one point Theranos was estimated to be worth $9 billion. In 2015 she was number one on Forbes' list of America's Richest Self-Made Women. She was also named the youngest self-made woman billionaire. But in June 2016, Forbes published an article that starts: "Last year, Elizabeth Holmes topped the FORBES list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Today, FORBES is lowering our estimate of her net worth to nothing." This was two years before the wire fraud charges, but amid allegations that the blood testing technology Theranos was touting wasn't accurate.
Some interesting tidbits have also been reported about her personality. Holmes was known for being obsessed with Steve Jobs, who inspired the black turtlenecks she always wore. Vanity Fair reported that she "walked around the office with a dog whom she repeatedly told people was a wolf." There have also been claims that she spoke in a fake deep voice to command more respect.
While she awaits trial, the now 35-year-old is back in the spotlight because of The Inventor from Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief director Alex Gibney, but it's not the only film that will tell Holmes' story. Adam McKay (Vice, The Big Short) is adapting Bad Blood, a book about Theranos by John Carreyrou, into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence. There's no release date set for Bad Blood yet. The Inventor will premiere on HBO on Monday, Mar. 18.