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Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

By Kevin Zhang 

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes had been sentenced to over 11 years in prison for defrauding investors of her blood testing start-up company that was once valued at over $9 bn USD. 

The former Silicon Valley CEO had falsely claimed the technology could diagnose disease with just a few drops of blood. Holmes, 38, who is currently pregnant, told the court that she felt “deep pain” for those that were misled by the scam. 

She was found guilty in January after a three-month trial. Holmes is expected to appeal against the sentence, which was given on Friday in a California court. She was once hailed as “the next Steve Jobs”, and said to be the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

She had launched Theranos after dropping out of Stanford University at age 19, and its value rose tremendously after the company had claimed that it could revolutionize the role of blood in disease diagnosis. 

The technology Holmes touted did not work, and the company was buried in lawsuits, resulting in its dissolving in 2018.

At the trial in San Jose, California, prosecutors said she knowingly misled doctors and patients about Theranos’ flagship product, titled “the Edison machine”, which the company had claimed could detect cancer, diabetes, and other widespread conditions through just a small amount of blood. 

“I am devastated by my failings. I have felt deep pain for what people went through, because I failed them. I regret my failings with every cell of my body,” Holmes said during the trial. 

The judge, referring to Holmes as a “brilliant” entrepreneur, told her: “Failure is normal. But failure by fraud is not OK.”

Holme’s sentence is a warning for Silicon Valley executives that there can be serious consequences for misleading investors. 

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