Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has become one of America’s best-known tech billionaires despite being jailed for a years-long scam, says the creator of the scandal-winning podcast , She “has the ambition to rise again.”
The 38 year old Sentenced to more than 11 years in prison friday already Convicted of four counts of fraud After a case that shocked the world.
Her stunning rise and fall—from the youngest self-made female billionaire in U.S. history to the company she once valued at $9 billion sink in shame – Inspired podcast The Dropout, which was adapted this year into the critically acclaimed TV series of the same name starring Amanda Seyfried.
ABC News reporter and presenter Rebecca Jarvis has since interviewed some of the 12 jurors who will decide Holmes’ fate after years of interviewing former employers, investors and patients.
“Assuming this is the last we’ll hear from Elizabeth Holmes, it’s a poor choice,” she told Sky News.
“She has ambitions to rise again and do more.
“I’ve had reports from some sources not involved in the lawsuit that they lost money on the story, but they ultimately said that if she came back with a new idea, they would support her again.”
How Elizabeth Holmes went from Silicon Valley darling to disgrace
Investors can ‘try again’ if Holmes returns
Following the example of her idol, Steve Jobs, the famous Apple co-founder, Holmes’ company has taken Silicon Valley by storm, attracting high-profile investors for its pioneering blood-testing technology.
These include Rupert Murdoch and US pharmaceutical giant Walgreens, while former Secretary of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger are on the board.
They’ve all been blinded by the promise of technology that can detect dozens of diseases with just a single drop of blood, potentially eliminating the need for a doctor’s visit by rolling out these gadgets in stores.
“There was a time when you could walk into a Walgreens and visit one of the Theranos health centers — and there was this promise that the technology would go to most of the Walgreens in the country,” Jarvis said.
“Had Elizabeth Holmes achieved her goals, this could have been in the hands of most Americans.”
Although the technology never worked as advertised, Jarvis said the idea was promising enough to attract investors again.
As a female CEO, she “overcame a lot of odds” by raising hundreds of millions of dollars, helping to create a “glamorous” character with turtlenecks, a surprisingly deep voice and a goal of “changing the world.”
“We’ve seen something similar happen in Silicon Valley — major investors reinvesting in founders who … may not have been accused of fraud, but they’ve lost everything,” Jarvis said.
“It’s definitely not out of the question, and you’ll see people who lose once with her, try again and see if it works.”
The Dangerous ‘Pressure’ of Big Tech
The culture of Silicon Valley, the birthplace of Apple and other companies, Mark Zuckerberg’s MetaAnd Google parent Alphabet suffered enormous scrutiny when Theranos dreams were dashed.
Jarvis said the treacherous ethos of “fake success” among American start-ups created a pressure that helped figures like Holmes stand out and would continue to do so.
“You wouldn’t have Elizabeth Holmes without some ecosystem that existed around her,” she said.
“I’ve been covering technology, business and the economy for nearly two decades, and you see history repeating itself time and time again. Changes can happen — but they’re mostly incremental.”
If the Theranos scandal will leave a positive legacy, Jarvis thinks it may lie in the willingness of whistleblowers to speak out against their employers.
Key figures in uncovering Holmes included research engineer Tyler Schultz, grandson of board member George and lab assistant Erica Chang.
Mr. Schultz’s relationship with his family was strained by his decision to speak out, while Ms. Zhang, who was a recent graduate at the time, worried about her career prospects.
Both contributed to John Carreyrou’s blockbuster coverage in The Wall Street Journal, and they also appeared on The Dropout podcast and show, of which Jarvis is an executive producer.
“In the short term, they are facing real consequences, which are not pleasant,” Jarvis told Sky News.
“But in the long run, what they said was true and was upheld in court – Elizabeth Holmes was convicted and the jury found her responsible for what they said she was responsible for.
“It shows the power of speaking up when you see something isn’t right. Even though there may be consequences in the short term, the truth will eventually prevail.”