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Theranos Founder’s Trial Begins: The Rise and Fall of a Silicon Valley Icon



At 19, Elizabeth Holmes became known to the world not as a promising young woman, but as a charismatic leader who could revolutionize the health sector. For a recent graduate of Stanford University, where she studied chemical engineering, success came with a bang, including luxury investor rights, landmark magazine covers, and comparisons in which she praised Steve Jobs as a woman.

The reason for all the fuss? The promise of new technology for laboratory testing, the raison d’être of the startup Theranos, which he founded in 2003 (initially called Real-Time Cures) and whose premise was based on the company’s capabilities, in just a few drops. blood tests, authorities perform over a hundred tests, from cholesterol detection to cancer cases.

Years later, Holmes’s fall was just as drastic, and it turned out to be damaging to the culture of Silicon Valley. The disgraced former CEO is expected to stand trial this week, accused of multiple federal fraud and deliberate misrepresentation of technology’s ability to defraud investors and customers. You face 20 years in prison.

In retrospect, the truth is that Elizabeth Holmes has never produced effective results that validate the value of the company she created. But he had “timing” in his favor and the advantage of making him grow in line with the size of the promise he was selling, in a way that analysts even valued Theranos at around $ 9 billion.

It was self-evident. No one seemed to have seen an advanced diagnostic device that could get rid of the needles and huge vials of blood, but the idea was reiterated that Edison’s hardware was far ahead of any other option available from the competition. When doubts arose and Theranos became synonymous with fraud, Holmes was already the youngest billionaire in the world, as the owner of 50% of the company’s shares, and managed to raise about $ 700 million from investment funds.

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If things got more complicated when regulators asked for more data on the technology developed and the quality of the research being carried out, the opening of the startup’s first test lab in 2013 raised new suspicions. Among them is that Holmes will conduct exams on unapproved equipment and using technology from competing companies, not the one he claimed to have created.

Banned from the sector and held accountable

Theranos was ranked from bad to worse. A former employee confirmed that the company was unable to conduct accurate tests on its own equipment, and an October 2015 Wall Street Journal study questioned not only the machine’s blood testing capabilities, but also the testing methods it used.

When the truth became inevitable, Holmes was ultimately banned from working in the health sector, banned from owning or operating any laboratory for two years. If, as a young leader, in the image of the success that laid the foundation for the Sillikon Valley, the Theranos founder brought in a powerful squad of prominent politicians (including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, or James Mattis, who will become US Secretary of Defense between 2017 and 2019) on the board of the company ), the truth is that investors sued Theranos for fraud and eventually dissolved it in September 2018.

The former visionary, now 37 years old, is now preparing for an ordeal. After months of delays due to the pandemic and the birth of her first child, she will take the dock in federal court in San Jose and face two counts of conspiracy to commit electronic fraud and ten federal counts of fraud. Jury selection will begin on Tuesday and the trial is expected to last for several months, according to the American press.

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Like Holmes, her ex-boyfriend Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, with whom she had a romantic relationship when they both worked at Theranos, is accused. They are accused of developing a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors between 2010 and 2015, as well as another scheme to defraud doctors and patients who paid for their services between 2013 and 2016.

Although both pleaded not guilty, the punishment could be up to 20 years in prison, with potential fines and damages in the thousands and thousands of dollars at stake.

Which way will the defense go? For lawyers, the focus of the litigation will be questions about what Elizabeth Holmes knew when and whether she was going to cheat. According to them, the most difficult thing to prove is the issue of intentionality.

As for the strategy to be followed by Holmes’ attorneys, the first steps involve trying to make Balwani the bad guy. The two will be tried separately, and recently released court documents reveal the reason: the goal would be to make Holmes a victim of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse, detailing the tactics her boyfriend allegedly used to control her and the psychological impact of such violence. insults, writes CNN.

Nothing is known yet. Elizabeth Holmes can only be put in the position of one who genuinely believes in the potential of the technology she has created, the only crime being overly optimistic, with no intent to cheat, not rejecting the possibility of a plea agreement, as they point out. other analysts. It is not even clear yet whether Holmes testifies or prefers silence. The first hypothesis is seen as a risk, but there are those who remember the ability to be convincing – a favorable start to his career proves this.

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Ukraine exchanges prisoners with Russia for the third time in a week – News



“We managed to free twelve of our people. Among them are four Navy servicemen, two National Guardsmen, two border guards, a serviceman of the Territorial Defense Forces and three civilians: a husband and wife and a missing man,” Andriy Yermak, head of the presidential staff, wrote. ., in your online Telegram account.

Yermak said the soldiers may have been captured during the siege of the coastal city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which Russian troops occupied for a month last spring, and Snake Island in the Black Sea.

According to the head of the presidential office, with such an exchange, the number of Ukrainian prisoners of war exchanged with Russia per week rises to 98.

“We are working to free all of our people. We will not stop,” Yermak concluded.

For its part, the Russian Defense Ministry said nine Russian servicemen were returned this Saturday “from territories controlled by the Kyiv regime.”

Last Thursday, 50 Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war were exchanged, and the day before, 35 Russian servicemen were released for the same number of Ukrainian military and one civilian.

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“I share your pain,” Putin told the mothers of Russian soldiers sent to war in Ukraine – War in Ukraine



Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday told mothers of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine that he “shares the pain” of those who have lost their children and urged them not to believe the “lie” about the invasion.

“I want you to know that I personally share your pain. We know that nothing can replace the loss of a child,” Putin said.

According to news site EuroNews, the Russian leader also added that Mother’s Day, celebrated in Russia this Sunday, will be marked this year by “a sense of unease and unease” among women whose “thoughts will be with their boys.”

Putin’s meeting with the soldiers’ mothers took place at the leader’s residence outside Moscow and was the first of its kind since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24. The Kremlin rarely talks about the losses suffered in Ukraine, and the meeting, which took place this Friday, comes after weeks of criticism on social media from relatives of soldiers mobilized in early autumn.

Many soldiers’ wives and mothers blamed the authorities for not properly training and equipping them before being sent to the front, EuroNews reports.

“Life is more complicated than what you see on TV or on the Internet, where you can’t trust anything. A lot of false information, a lot of lies,” Putin replied.

The Russian president also said he occasionally talks on his cell phone to soldiers sent to Ukraine and said he was “surprised” by their “state of mind.”

“They give me reason to say that they are heroes, it’s true,” he added.

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Russia sends elite paratroopers to the front line in Donbass after leaving Kherson – Obozrevatel



whitefish here our liveblog from the war in Ukraine

In the first hours of the invasion, on February 24, Russian paratroopers were in the Kyiv area. A few weeks ago they were dedicated to the defense of territories west of the Dnieper, in Kherson. After the withdrawal of Russian troops, some units are sent to a new front, this time to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

British Ministry of Defense disclosed that, despite the “strong weakening” during the nine months of the war, part of the units of the Russian Air Force (VDV) will return to the combat front.

Some of these units will be reinforced by Russians called up during the partial mobilization announced in September by President Vladimir Putin. Despite the promise of training and equipment, soldiers arrive in Ukraine ill-prepared, and there are already records of the first deaths among mobilized Russian troops. However, the British Ministry assumes that the new elements integrated into the Airborne Forces will be sent to the most important places.

Russian soldiers died in Ukraine 10 days after being sent

In the most recent report, the United Kingdom points out that “although these untrained soldiers undermine the supposedly elite capability of the Airborne Forces, Russia is likely to deploy these units in sectors considered particularly important.”

In the Donbass, units are expected to support the defense of the Kremina-Svatovo area in Lugansk. According to The Telegraph, it was in this city that Russian troops settled after leaving Kharkov. The British ministry also says units could be sent to reinforce defensive operations in the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk, which has been one of the hotbeds of heavy fighting in recent weeks.

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