Elizabeth Holmes: The Rise and Fall of a Silicon Valley Super Woman


Elizabeth Holmes rose from nowhere to become the world’s first female billionaire. With her company Theranos, Holmes revolutionized healthcare, making medical diagnoses less painful and expensive. However, she was found in October of 2018 to have falsified data and never had any real breakthrough technology.

What is Elizabeth Holmes?

Elizabeth Holmes is a self-made Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former CEO of Theranos, a company that was once valued at over $9 billion. Holmes was recently indicted on charges of fraud and conspiracy. Her role in the company’s collapse has led to her being dubbed “the most successful female Silicon Valley entrepreneur ever.” 

What made Elizabeth Holmes so successful? 

Born in 1984, Holmes grew up in Palo Alto, California, where she was a bright and intelligent child. She attended Stanford University, where she studied electrical engineering, but dropped out after two years to start her own business. 

Holmes first caught the tech world’s attention when she created a website called Pretaxi, which allowed users to find and compare prices for different products. The site quickly became popular, and in 2007 she sold it to Theranos for an estimated $10 million. 

Theranos was a young and unproven startup when Holmes became its CEO in 2013. Under her leadership, the company grew rapidly by developing innovative blood testing technology. In 2015, Forbes named Theranos one of the 10 most valuable startups in the world. 

But everything changed in October 2016 when reports emerged alleging that Theranos’ technology did not.

How did she become so successful?

Elizabeth Holmes was born in 1984 in Texas. She grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and started her own company when she was just 22 years old. Her company, Theranos, was a Silicon Valley superstar, valued at around $9 billion. However, this success ended after a series of controversies and investigations into the accuracy of her claims about her technology.

Was she a real genius?

Elizabeth Holmes was once dubbed the “Queen of Silicon Valley,” but her reign ended earlier this year after she was charged with fraud. Now, investigators are trying to determine how much money Holmes bilked from her investors. Was she a genius all along, or was she riding on the coattails of a talented team?

What happened to her company Theranos?

Elizabeth Holmes, age 34, was once the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. She founded Theranos, a cutting-edge biotech company that promised to revolutionize blood testing. But in 2015, The Wall Street Journal exposed that Theranos’s technology was a fraud – its blood analysis machines were only capable of accurately measuring a fraction of the tests they claimed to be able to do. In 2017, Holmes was indicted on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. Now she’s out of prison, and her company is bankrupt.

Maybe Elizabeth Holmes is still alive?

In early 2012, a 24-year-old woman with a Harvard degree and no previous business experience proclaimed she had invented the next big thing: the machine that could read and analyze medical scans and diagnose diseases. This young woman, then known as Elizabeth Holmes, was the CEO and founder of Theranos, Inc. This American technology company quickly became one of Silicon Valley’s most buzzworthy startups.

Known for her confident demeanor and striking appearance, Holmes quickly became a celebrity in Silicon Valley, appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and receiving coverage from publications like Forbes and The New Yorker. Her company’s supposedly revolutionary blood-testing technology seemed to be on track to revolutionize healthcare. But six years later, Theranos is facing fraud and financial mismanagement allegations that have put its future in doubt.

Now 31 years old, Holmes is likely facing criminal charges and lawsuits from investors who lost millions of dollars in her company’s collapse. In this long-form profile, reporter David Kohn looks closely at what went wrong with Holmes’ seemingly perfect startup empire. 



Elizabeth Holmes is a Silicon Valley superwoman. She was born into privilege, but she turned that to her advantage by dropping out of college at 19 and starting a company that allowed people to order blood tests online. Her story quickly went viral, and Holmes became one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs in America. But then things started to unravel. In 2015, federal agents raided her home and office, accusing her of defrauding investors of more than $2 billion. Now she’s facing charges that could land her in prison for up to 20 years. It’s been a dramatic fall from grace for an entrepreneur who once seemed destined for greatness.

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