"The Dropout," a new series on Hulu, is the latest project to attempt to unravel the enigma of Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of the biotech startup Theranos. Holmes' story has been examined through podcasts, books, and articles in recent years, and continues to play out in real time. Today, Holmes is awaiting sentencing for the very crimes that "The Dropout" explores.
After exposés, lawsuits, and government intervention, Theranos shuttered in 2018. But Holmes has remained a figure of public fixation. As you watch Seyfried star as the ousted CEO in "The Dropout," here's what to know about where the real Elizabeth Holmes, and where she is now.
Holmes founded Theranos, a controversial blood-testing startup.
Holmes’s tale begins with a vision to revolutionize the healthcare industry. In 2003, at the age of 19, Holmes dropped out of Stanford and used money intended for her tuition to launch Theranos, a blood-testing company. The name is a portmanteau of "therapy" and "diagnosis."
To seed Theranos, Holmes sold investors on an attractive idea: She would “democratize” medical blood testing with a machine called the Edison. The device, she pledged, could run over 200 blood tests using a pinprick’s worth of blood.
Holmes’s concept netted her ample press coverage and prestige. In 2015, Holmes was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. Theranos garnered $900 million in investments from the likes of Walgreens, as well as Walmart and Cox Communications heirs. By 2014, Theranos was valued at $9 billion.
In 2015, it all came crashing down.
Allegations from former Theranos employees and an article published by The Wall Street Journal detailed how Theranos tampered with research and purposefully overlooked failed quality-control checks. Whistleblowers — including former Theranos employee Tyler Shulz, the grandson of Secretary of State and Theranos board member George Shultz — asserted that the company's Edison machine was far from capable of doing what the world believed it did.
After her trial concluded, Holmes was found guilty of fraud in 2022.
Holmes's criminal trial began in Sept. 2021. Holmes, then 37, pled not guilty to 11 charges of fraud.
The jury set out to determine whether Holmes deliberately deceived patients and investors about the efficacy of Theranos' Edison and miniLab blood testing machines, or whether she was genuinely uninformed about the lab technology's foibles, as she attested.
In Jan. 2022, Holmes was found guilty on four out of the 11 charges, all of which were related to defrauding investors.
Holmes faces a sentence of up to 80 years in prison.
This past January, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila ordered the former Theranos CEO to face sentencing on Sept. 26, about nine months after the guilty verdict was delivered.
Holmes faces potential prison time. Each of the four guilty charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. However, as the Wall Street Journal notes, there is no mandatory minimum sentence associated with the charges, so it's difficult to predict Davila's sentencing.
Holmes recently had a son with her partner, Billy Evans.
During the trial, Holmes frequently was photographed walking hand-in-hand with her partner, Billy Evans. She has remained tight-lipped as to whether she is married to Evans.
Holmes was first seen with Evans, 29, at Burning Man festival in 2018, per the New York Times. Evans is graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His father, Bill Evans, owns and operates Evans Hotels, a series of San Diego-based resorts founded by his parents. Bill was also present at Holmes's trial.
According to The New York Times, Holmes had a child with Evans in July 2021.
Theranos' Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani faces the same charges as Holmes.
Ramesh Balwani, nicknamed “Sunny,” made his fortune during the dotcom boom of the '90s and later worked alongside Holmes as the chief operating officer of Theranos. Balwani, 56, was charged with the same 11 fraud charges as Holmes, for which he has also pled not guilty.
As "The Dropout" shows, Holmes and Balwani had a romantic relationship that began prior to being colleagues at Theranos, and continued during their tenure at the start-up. In her testimony, Holmes accused Balwani of emotional and sexual abuse that took place during the relationship.
Currently, Holmes is living in California.
As she awaits her September sentencing, Holmes is free on a $500,000 bond. According to CNBC, the new mother is living on a nine-bedroom Silicon Valley estate, worth an estimated $135 million.
New episodes of "The Dropout" will be available for streaming every Thursday on Hulu.
CORRECTION: An early version of this article misidentified Elizabeth Holmes and Amanda Seyfried.