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The Elizabeth Holmes trial: Fraud, funding and a reckoning for Silicon Valley

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of blood testing and life sciences company Theranos, arrives for the first day of jury selection in her fraud trial, outside Federal Court in San Jose, California, on Aug. 31, 2021. (Nick Otto/AFP/Getty Images)
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of blood testing and life sciences company Theranos, arrives for the first day of jury selection in her fraud trial, outside Federal Court in San Jose, California, on Aug. 31, 2021. (Nick Otto/AFP/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Holmes was a Silicon Valley wunderkind. Now, she’s been found guilty of fraud.

But, from 2003 — when she first founded her company Theranos —  all the way to 2013, she built a company valued at $10 billion.

But, not everyone was convinced.

“I met Elizabeth Holmes late in 2006, when she was raising some of the early rounds of capital for Theranos, and it was clear when I sat across the room from her that she could not answer the basic questions about how the device worked,” Dr. Bijan Salehizadeh says.

If that’s the case, why did so many other supposedly savvy investors fall for her?

“What we’re seeing in the last decade-plus with a lot of companies led by these young, charismatic founders that are attracting vast amounts of capital is, the story is the vast amounts of capital,” Margaret O’Mara says.

Today, On Point: Fraud, funding and Silicon Valley’s ‘fake it till you make it’ culture.

Guests

Dr. Bijan Salehizadeh, investor in health care venture capital and private equity for over 20 years. (@bijans)

Micah Rosenbloom, managing partner at the venture capital firm Founder Collective. (@micahjay1)

Kara Swisher, opinion writer for the New York Times. Host of the podcast “Sway.” (@karaswisher)

Also Featured

Margaret O’Mara, professor of history at the University of Washington. Author of “The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.