Taking the stand in her criminal trial, Elizabeth Holmes removed her mask and smiled as she answered questions from the jury. It was a shocking and unexpected move on the part of the defence team, which had just begun its case earlier that day.
A total of 11 charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to conduct wire fraud have been filed against Holmes, 37, for her acts as the founder and CEO of Theranos, which she oversaw from 2003 until the company’s closure in 2018. She entered a not guilty plea.
For its side, the prosecution summoned 29 witnesses in the first 11 weeks of the trial, including former lab directors as well as former patients, physicians, business partners, and investors. The government declared its case closed on Friday morning, after the evidence of journalist Roger Parloff, who penned the 2014 Fortune magazine cover storey “This CEO Is Out For Blood.” Parloff testified on Thursday that the CEO was “out for blood.”
The presence or absence of Holmes on the witness stand has not been confirmed by defence attorneys. However, she was summoned and boldly strolled up to the table just after 3 p.m. California standard time. It’s the first time the jury has seen Holmes in person and not via a mask since the trial began.
The interrogation was initiated by Kevin Downey, one of Holmes’ defence lawyers. According to one of Holmes’s first public pronouncements, between 2009 and 2010, her team achieved a significant technical breakthrough.
When Downey confronted Holmes about her public claims about how many tests Theranos could do, Holmes responded by asking whether she was restricting her remarks to certain sorts of testing. “No,” Holmes said.
Several corporate insiders, including whistleblower and former lab assistant Erika Cheung, testified that Theranos’ devices were incapable of performing more than 12 distinct tests, which was in direct conflict with the firm’s claims at the time of the investigation. Holmes has previously stated to potential investors and others that Theranos’ patented technology was capable of doing 1,000 blood tests per minute.
Holmes, who kept her gaze mostly on her lawyer and away from the approximately 50 other people in the room, spoke about her time at Stanford and her choice to leave out to pursue her start-up concept in front of the group. She said that she originally named the firm Real-Time Cures, but that the name was changed to Theranos in 2005. She told the jury that she attempted to acquire money, establish a laboratory, and employ scientists.
“We were prototyping,” Holmes said, noting that the early team was attempting to construct components of the technology from scratch. The possibility to employ some of the folks I had worked with and with at Stanford presented itself to me.
Downey inquired of Holmes as to how she had funded the company’s early stages.
When I approached my parents, they agreed to let me use the money they had saved for me to attend college. “I began by talking to them,” Holmes said. “After that, I went to borrow some money.”
Over the course of his career, Holmes raised more than $940 million from financial institutions and affluent people, resulting in a $9 billion value for the firm. The prosecution presented several witnesses who testified that they were tricked by Holmes, who allegedly misled them about the possibilities of the technology and its traction in the market. The jury heard testimony from a number of these witnesses.
When questioned about Don Lucas, one of the company’s initial funders and the founder of Lucas Venture Group, Holmes responded positively on Friday. The two met when the business was raising its Series B fundraising round, according to Holmes.
“Don Lucas was one of the pioneering venture capitalists in Silicon Valley,” Holmes said. Among the firms he invested in were Oracle, National Semiconductor, and Adobe, among others. “I knew him as someone who was dedicated on establishing great companies in the long run,” she said of him.
“I was introduced to him by someone who had attended the same college as my father,” she said. “He was quite kind.” “He had a slew of questions for me.” He started a very thorough due diligence exercise,” says the author.
“He engaged a legal company to do a study of our patents,” Holmes said. “He requested that we have our financial records audited. “He needed copies of our contracts,” we said.
Holmes said that she subsequently met Oracle founder Larry Ellison as a result of her meeting with Lucas. Ellison eventually decided to participate in the Series C investment round, which included Lucas and his nephew, Chris Lucas, who was one of the investors summoned by the government.
Holmes’ evidence lasted around one hour and ten minutes, and it concluded at 4:10 p.m., when Judge Edward Davila announced that the court would be closed until Monday. According to her attorney, Holmes will most likely stay on the stand until Tuesday of next week. They’ll be off for the remainder of the week in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.