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Elizabeth Holmes found guilty of 4 counts of fraud in landmark ‘tech start up’ case

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“Fake it until you make it” may not be a popular slogan anymore for start ups and Silicon Valley’s T-Shirt brigade after the landmark case against Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes. Today she was found guilty of 4 counts of fraud – 1 of conspiracy to defraud investors, and 3 counts of wire fraud against investors.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on another 7 counts though some could be retried in the future. Ms. Holmes pleaded not guilty and is expected to appeal the convictions. The jury found her guilty of charges including conspiracy to defraud investors by making overly-optimistic or clearly fraudulent claims about her blood testing company.

The jury told US district judge Edward Davila that it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on several charges. As the verdict was read by Judge Davila, the Elizabeth Homes bowed her head and expressed no apparent emotion.

Meanwhile the 37 year old Theranos founder was acquitted on 3 other charges, including conspiracy to defraud patients and 2 charges related to patients who received inaccurate test results.

The verdict caps off an extraordinary 15 year rise and fall of both Ms. Holmes and Theranos, and painted a muddy picture of Silicon Valley tech start ups and their excessive hubris. The results of the case are also likely to have wide-ranging consequences for the tech industry, often over-hyping products heading to market in an effort to attract investment capital.

At its pinnacle, Theranos was valued at more than US$9 billion.

During the long trial, prosecutors portrayed Ms. Holmes as a “strict, power-hungry leader willing to go to any lengths” to propel her company’s image and her own reputation, repressing dissent and manipulating the press.

But the defense team instead portrayed Ms. Holmes as an enthusiastic and ambitious Silicon Valley entrepreneur who never, knowingly, meant to commit fraud, but was unable to fully comprehend the scientific shortcomings of the Theranos blood testing technology.

Once hailed as a visionary, Ms. Holmes now faces prison time but no sentence date has been set by the court.

 

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