Theranos trial: Elizabeth Holmes on the grill

Since the opening of her trial on September 8, Elizabeth Holmes has arrived at federal court in San José, California every morning, supervised by her mother and her husband, Billy Evans, the son of a hotel mogul from San Diego, who each hold his hand. Tuesday, November 23 was no exception.

If this was one of the most important days for the outcome of a case that could earn her up to twenty years in prison, the former boss of Theranos has shown nothing. Impassive, she went through security, along the line of journalists, lined up for hours in order of arrival. There are only about 30 seats in the courtroom and the trial is not shown on television.

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Elizabeth Holmes, 37, is accused of fooling investors and patients into believing that Theranos, her start-up founded in 2003, had found a method that would revolutionize blood testing. In an exuberant Silicon Valley, Theranos had been valued up to $ 9 billion in 2014, without ever having demonstrated results. Intoxicated by the surge in her notoriety, Elisabeth Holmes dressed like Steve Jobs, in a black turtleneck, and let it be said that she had invented “The health care iPod” : a small device called “Edison”, supposedly capable of performing more than 200 different tests, from a single drop of blood. Declared bankrupt in 2018, Theranos has become the symbol of the hubris of Silicon Valley.

Smiling and sure of herself

Elizabeth Holmes appeared in court for the third time on Tuesday. The previous days, she had rather scored points, by recounting her journey as a young girl in a hurry, so motivated by her project of “Democratize health” that she had left her studies as a chemical engineer at Stanford in the second year. Confident of herself, sometimes smiling, she had answered firmly to the question which is at the center of the trial: what did she know about the poor performance of the technology whose merits she praised to investors. “Were you convinced that Theranos had developed a technology that could perform any blood test? “, one of his lawyers asked him on Friday. ” I was “, she assured.

Tuesday’s hearing was much less favorable. The former Silicon Valley superstar, who faces eleven fraud charges, admitted that she personally included the logo of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Schering-Plow on brochures sent to potential investors. This, without their agreement, when they had not validated its technology. She said her intention was not to mislead anyone. “I wish I had acted differently”, she confessed.

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Theranos trial: Elizabeth Holmes on the grill