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Theranos executives begged disgraced Elizabeth Holmes to step down in the company’s last days

Theranos executives are said to have begged Elizabeth Holmes to step down as CEO in the start-up’s last days, but she refused because she ‘saw herself as the company’. 

One former exec, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNBC: ‘Anyone who knows Elizabeth knows she saw herself as the company and I don’t think she could see the company continuing without her.’ 

They described her stepping down as CEO as ‘a non-starter’. But said it had been discussed several times. 

The former executive said that her name ‘was so wrapped up in a Silicon Valley success story’ that stepping down would have ‘saved her freedom’ adding: ‘If she had stepped down I think she would have saved herself a lot of legal jeopardy.’   

Holmes and former Theranos President Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani have pleaded not guilty to charges they defrauded investors, doctors and patients. 

They are said to have falsely claiming Theranos could revolutionize medical lab testing with technology that could enable a wide array of tests with a few drops of blood. 

Holmes, who started Theranos at the age of 19 after dropping out of Standford, was widely celebrated in tech circles until it became clear that many of the claims about the company’s supposedly revolutionary blood test were bogus. 

She has also been accused of the deep baritone in her voice that became one of her trademarks. And she became known for her black turtlenecks, once boasting that she owned more than 150 of the items, in an effort to emulate Apple’s Steve Jobs.

The expectant mother was pictured with her baby bump for the first time Tuesday when she appeared at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building for a pre-trial federal court date. Her lawyers revealed that she was expecting in March. 

Theranos executives are said to have asked Elizabeth Holmes to step down in the start-up’s last days, but she refused because she ‘saw herself as the company’. The expectant mother was pictured with her baby bump for the first time Tuesday when she appeared at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building for a pre-trial federal court date

The 37-year-old, who is due to stand trial for fraud in August, appeared at a federal court hearing in California on Tuesday, when she showed off her bump in a black dress

The 37-year-old, who is due to stand trial for fraud in August, appeared at a federal court hearing in California on Tuesday, when she showed off her bump in a black dress

Holmes, who is married to hotel heir Billy Evans, 29, neglected to answer reporters' questions as she walked into the building while flanked by two lawyers

Holmes, who is married to hotel heir Billy Evans, 29, neglected to answer reporters’ questions as she walked into the building while flanked by two lawyers

Holmes is married to hotel heir Billy Evans, 27, but has not confirmed he is the father of her child, and has shared little information about the pregnancy

Holmes is married to hotel heir Billy Evans, 27, but has not confirmed he is the father of her child, and has shared little information about the pregnancy

A court hearing Wednesday heard how Holmes ‘lied’, telling ‘the world and investors: we have tests with the highest accuracy rate’. 

The judge will rule on whether to allow evidence about Holmes’ wealth by the end of the week.  

Holmes is married to hotel heir Billy Evans, 27, but has not confirmed he is the father of her child, and has shared little information about the pregnancy, other than the month of her due date.  

One former exec, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNBC : 'Anyone who knows Elizabeth knows she saw herself as the company and I don't think she could see the company continuing without her.' They described her stepping down as CEO as 'a non-starter'. But said it had been discussed several times

One former exec, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNBC : ‘Anyone who knows Elizabeth knows she saw herself as the company and I don’t think she could see the company continuing without her.’ They described her stepping down as CEO as ‘a non-starter’. But said it had been discussed several times

Prior to the latest postponement for her pregnancy, her trial date had already been pushed back three times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic - and the news that it would have to be delayed once again was met with backlash from prosecutor

She is pictured with Evans

Prior to the latest postponement for her pregnancy, her trial date had already been pushed back three times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the news that it would have to be delayed once again was met with backlash from prosecutors. She is pictured with Evans

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been seen for the first time since her lawyers made the surprise announcement that she is pregnant with her first child

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been seen for the first time since her lawyers made the surprise announcement that she is pregnant with her first child

Tuesday’s appearance marked the first time in more than a year that Holmes has been seen at court.

Prior to the latest postponement for her pregnancy, her trial date had already been pushed back three times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the news that it would have to be delayed once again was met with backlash from prosecutors. 

Holmes was indicted in 2018 and her federal trial in San Jose, California, was originally scheduled for July 28, 2020. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Leach said that prosecutors, who were told about Holmes’ pregnancy via Zoom, were ‘frustrated and disappointed’ to learn about it at such a late date, CNBC reported. 

Lawyers for Holmes, once a rising star of Silicon Valley, informed the government on March 2 of the pregnancy, according to the filing. 

Her husband is the heir to the Evans Hotel Group, which was founded by his grandparents William and Anne Evans in San Diego in 1953. Currently, the business has three resort properties on the West Coast. 

Evans graduated from MIT in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Economics, at which point he took a post at LinkedIn. 

In 2017, he became the director of special projects at Luminar Technologies, a company which develops sensors for driverless cars, although it appears he left the company in 2019. 

Holmes, who started Theranos at the age of 19 after dropping out of Standford, was widely celebrated in tech circles until it became clear that many of the claims about the company's supposedly revolutionary blood test were bogus

Holmes, who started Theranos at the age of 19 after dropping out of Standford, was widely celebrated in tech circles until it became clear that many of the claims about the company’s supposedly revolutionary blood test were bogus

She has also been accused of the deep baritone in her voice that became one of her trademarks. And she became famous for her love of black turtlenecks and once boasted that she owned more than 150 of the items

She has also been accused of the deep baritone in her voice that became one of her trademarks. And she became famous for her love of black turtlenecks and once boasted that she owned more than 150 of the items

Now, she and her ex-boyfriend Balwani are awaiting their day in court after being accused of falsely claiming the company’s machines could perform breakthrough blood tests with a single drop of blood. 

She and Balwani are accused of scamming investors out of more than $700million.   

Holmes attracted investors and venture capital firms which saw company reach a $9 billion valuation based on its promise to disrupt the laboratory testing business.

Prosecutors submitted a filing in January claiming that Theranos executives destroyed data that proved their blood-testing product was inaccurate. Knowingly misleading investors by providing false data is a federal crime.

The company knew about its inaccurate testing data that was collected over a period of three years, according to The Register.

The data ‘was stored on a specially-developed SQL database called the Laboratory Information Systems (LIS),’ according to the court filing.

The database ‘even flagged blood test results that might require immediate medical attention, and communicated this to the patient’s physician’.

Former Theranos COO Ramesh Balwani

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of Theranos

Holmes and former Theranos President Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani have pleaded not guilty to charges they defrauded investors, doctors and patients by falsely claiming Theranos could revolutionize medical lab testing with technology that could enable a wide array of tests with a few drops of blood

Prosecutors allege that Theranos executives knew their product was only half-reliable, as the failure rate for the tests was 51.3 per cent.     

A notoriously secretive company, Theranos shared very little about its blood-testing machine with the public or medical community. 

Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles. 

But an investigation by The Wall Street Journal in 2015 found that Theranos’ technology was inaccurate at best, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests.  

Federal authorities also allege Holmes and Balwani used funds from investors to subsidize an extravagant lifestyle while peddling a fraudulent product. 

Balwani’s case is being handled separately and his trial is scheduled to begin January 18, 2022.


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