back to article Trial of Theranos boss Elizabeth Holmes begins: She plans to say her boyfriend and COO Balwani abused her

The long anticipated fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of biomed upstart Theranos, got underway in San Jose, California, on Tuesday with Judge Edward Davila asking prospective jurors whether they have experienced "intimate partner violence or abuse" or know anyone has. Holmes, 37, who served as CEO of the blood- …

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    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blame the Indian guy

      He's originally from Pakistan, but I'd hazard a guess that doesn't matter one iota to you.

      1. Steve Button

        Re: Blame the Indian guy

        It really doesn't matter. He could have said "blame the brown skinned person" and it would be just as correct, because sadly that's a thing. And don't think OP was arguing that it's a good thing, quite the opposite.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Blame the Indian guy

          Her defense team is probably regretting is not a "white male bro", it would have made everything simpler. in the actual situation.. but probably would have to recuse all white males from the jury as well.

          But for what it matters she could have been too the classic manipulator able to take advantage of men, and bending them to her will. In some ways she's luckier again Balawani trial is after her. It would have been a better show if they were under trial together.

          Could Balawani appear as a witness? Because Holmes defense is going basically to accuse him without being able to defend himself. Shouldn't a trial to examine such accusations have been set up first? It's not a minor crime, and if it happened Balawani deserves jail time - but under the proper judiciary process.

          She's been able to lie for years about her technology... her defense has to prove she's not lying again and that in some ways made her not aware of lying and committing frauds for her own advantage, while the accuse has just to show she committed frauds, why is far less relevant.

          1. David Neil

            Re: Blame the Indian guy

            @LDS

            "She's been able to lie for years about her technology... her defense has to prove she's not lying again and that in some ways made her not aware of lying and committing frauds for her own advantage, while the accuse has just to show she committed frauds, why is far less relevant."

            The Defence doesn't have to prove anything, the Prosecution has to prove it's allegations beyond reasonable doubt.

  2. DJSpuddyLizard

    Hopefully she'll rot in jail for a while

    1. czechitout

      She'll get off by playing the "he made me do it" card and he'll get off my claiming there's no way he can get a fair trail after having his name pulled through the mud during her trial. Mark my words.

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    She's guilty as hell

    Convict her and throw her ass in prison.

    Next should be Peter Thiel for his illegal medical experiments.

    1. DuncanLarge

      Re: She's guilty as hell

      Next should be Elon Musk for wasting everyones time and money.

      Once we do that, lets go and sort out the soloar roadways idiots.

      Time we defended real science and the scientific process.

  4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Halloween

    A couple of years back, there was a shortage black turtlenecks. The trial date means history could repeat itself.

    https://www.thecut.com/2019/10/elizabeth-holmes-turtleneck-halloween-costume.html

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Halloween

      Crazy eyes sold separately?

  5. aerogems
    Holmes

    Going to be a tough sell

    I give her lawyers credit for a rather novel argument, but pretty sure the timeline doesn't work out. I'd have to double check, but I don't think the relationship in question happened until at least a couple years after Theranos was founded and surely by then she would have been told that her idea just wasn't practical given the technology available at the time. So, at best it seems like they're just angling for a means of getting a reduced sentence by claiming that all the worst examples happened after this abusive relationship had started.

    Even then, without some corroborating evidence, like former employees who witnessed some of said abuse or CCTV footage, it'll be a tough sell to a jury. It could also backfire spectacularly if Balwani has evidence that could undermine the whole argument and is willing to offer it up to the prosecution in exchange for a get out of jail free card or something.

    Ultimately, I'm inclined not to believe her at this stage, though I'll reserve final judgment for once some evidence has actually been presented. Until then, I think what she's doing is a real disservice to all the women who actually have been in abusive relationships and convinced/coerced into doing some horrible things.

    Sherlock because only he would be capable of getting to the truth of things in a case this convoluted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not true

      Seems to be bad for Balwani, they met and she at that time tried to get seed money. So his divorce filing works against him.

      https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/03/227176/elizabeth-holmes-sunny-balwani-relationship-explained

      "Holmes and Balwani met, according to the latter’s divorce filings, in 2002, while on a trip to Bejing with Stanford. Balwani was at Berkeley for his MBA and Holmes was a senior in high school. They were 37 and 18, respectively, but didn’t start a romantic relationship until — some reporting suggests — Holmes dropped out of Stanford in March 2004. This is, interestingly enough, also the time she decided to go out and try and get seed money for Theranos. According to Bad Blood, they were living together by July 2005."

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Going to be a tough sell

      "...and surely by then she would have been told that her idea just wasn't practical given the technology available at the time"

      BBC reports...

      At 18, she already displayed an intransigence that would apparently continue and drive the company she would found the following year.

      Phyllis Gardner, an expert in clinical pharmacology at Stanford, recalled discussing Ms Holmes's skin patch idea and telling her it "wouldn't work".

      "She just stared through me," Dr Gardner told the BBC.

      "And she just seemed absolutely confident of her own brilliance. She wasn't interested in my expertise and it was upsetting."

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58336998

    3. Naselus

      Re: Going to be a tough sell

      Given the absolute shenanigans her lawyers have already gotten upto thus far, I don't find this latest approach any more credible than the last lot. They've pretty much exemplified 'if you don't have the law or the facts on your side, pound the table' over the last, what, five years?

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    Mad as a cut snake

    Only more dangerous

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Mad as a cut snake

      First time I saw a photo of her I thought 'Why are people investing in this? She's completely batshit.'

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Mad as a cut snake

        Having spent some time pitching to VCs with actual working and commercially viable products it seems none of that actually matters. All the VCs care about is whether they can get in and get out with a lot more cash than they started with before it all turns to shit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mad as a cut snake

          er... this appears to be, broadly speaking, the tactic and strategy of ANY business venture :)

          1. Naselus

            Re: Mad as a cut snake

            "er... this appears to be, broadly speaking, the tactic and strategy of ANY business venture :)"

            Roughly speaking, every episode of Shark Tank is an attempt to figure out precisely how much to bet that the CEO can reach IPO before everyone discovers the idea is a complete crock of shit.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Mad as a cut snake

        I didn't care about photos but I wondered what extraordinary discovery someone should have made to make it work - and I really couldn't care about the look, gender, or ethnicity.

        I thought it would have been Nobel Prize level of discovery or something alike, but it didn't really matched what I saw. Sure, young geniuses do exist, but usually spend more time in a lab than on stage.

        She had the snake oil seller smell - the miraculous discovery kept so secret, so complex only a few can understand, and which can't go under peer reviews because of that.

        I just wonder why nobody really challenged her about the technology before investing, especially since she had not the background and profile to justify some kind of blind faith - heck, if Jobs had promised the iPhone X in 1976 instead of showing an Apple I designed and built by Wozniak maybe people would have been a little more skeptical... did investor became really so gullible?

        How many at Theranos were fully aware of the scam and helped to keep it alive for so long to make money? It doesn't look Holmes and Balwani alone were able to keep it running for so many years.

        1. EnviableOne Silver badge

          Re: Mad as a cut snake

          the original iteration of the iPad was the Newton, and that went well

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Mad as a cut snake

      Exactly how mad is a cut snake? On a scale of March hare to box of frogs? Admittedly I don't actually know which end of that scale is which.

      Enquiring minds would like to know. In fact, this sounds like a job for the El Reg Standards Soviet.

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Re: Mad as a cut snake

        I would suggest, Nutty as a fruitcake as the mild end of the scale.

        1. lglethal Silver badge

          Re: Mad as a cut snake

          I don't know, if someone put nuts in my Fruit cake, I'd be pretty mad.

          Not sure if I'd be hopping mad or mad as a hatter, but I'd definitely be somewhere on the mad scale.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Mad as a cut snake

            I'd say she's a nutcase's fruitcake - if you get my gist. After all, I should know!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Exactly how mad is a cut snake?

        Quite mad, I imagine. And considerably more dangerous than having a few 'roos loose in the top paddock.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    No evidence?

    Amazing, her damsel in distress act has evidence? I didn't think so... Not one shred of proof? I hope the jury sees through it.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: No evidence?

      The opportunity to present the evidence has not yet arisen, that is what the trial is for. In the interests of justice I sincerely hope the jurors take a more enlightened view because you have tried and convicted her based on a few media reports and without considering any of the very evidence you demand.

  8. FozzyBear

    We'll see if the old court saying holds true

    When the evidence is on your side, argue the facts.

    When the evidence is against you, argue the points of law

    When you have no evidence make a speech

    I foresee a lot of grand standing by the defence

    1. G.Y.

      Re: We'll see if the old court saying holds true

      Classic text: "when your law is weak, argue the facts

      When your facts are weak, argue the law

      When both are weak, pound the table"

  9. Peter D

    I don't buy it

    I refuse to believe that a person with such a soothing voice and kind eyes could ever do such a thing. I know things look bad on paper but I'm confident the jury, once they are allowed to hear her testimony, will come to the right decision and find this innovator innocent of all charges. It's a sad indictment of the judicial system that the good name of this woman who only ever wanted to help people should be dragged through the mud.

    1. Peter D

      Re: I don't buy it

      I'm guessing from the thumbs downs that people's sarcasm detectors are on the blink.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I don't buy it

        I guess he forgot /s or D'oh icon or I'll get my coat icon... I surely hope! Anyone that wanted to be like Steve Jobs... nut jobs?

        1. Steve Button

          Re: I don't buy it

          Well, yeah. Perhaps because it's REALLY OBVIOUSLY SARCASM. And the USA aren't awake yet, so we don't have to spell it out.

      2. Steve Button

        Re: I don't buy it

        I think sometimes people see a thumbs down, and so they also think they have to add a thumbs down without actually properly reading the comment.

        Many people are sheep.

      3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: I don't buy it

        "...people's sarcasm detectors are on the blink."

        Or their sarcasm detectors never worked in the first place - probably bought some re-badged "bomb detectors" that someone managed to flog to the British and Iraqi governments a few years back which were nothing much more than an empty box

        1. nichomach

          Re: I don't buy it

          Technically, I believe the boxes contained a magic stick...

      4. Imhotep Silver badge

        A Modest Proposal

        Well, how are they supposed to know it was sarcastic without a sarcasm tag? Of course, that's like having to explain a joke, it ruins the whole thing.

      5. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: I don't buy it

        > I'm guessing from the thumbs downs that people's sarcasm detectors are on the blink.

        I have a great new investment opportunity: a special medical but also non-medical patch that you apply to your skin and it tells you - via a slight colour change - whether your sarcasm detection ability is on the blink or not. It's secret ingredient - and I'm only disclosing this to you to assist you in evaluating this amazing offer - is that it uses re-vitolifted, eyuranic acid textured cuttlefish cells in a secret combination. It's just about to be submitted for FDA approval and your investment ensures we're ready to launch immediately after approval and before competitors can steal and act on our FDA submission data.

        1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

          Re: I don't buy it

          I'm in.

          Your 2 (the idea) plus my 2 (the money) will make 5. At which point we'll be rich. RICH.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't buy it

      Allegedly, her [sarcasm] "soothing voice" is actually fake!

      https://www.thecut.com/2019/03/why-did-elizabeth-holmes-use-a-fake-deep-voice.html

  10. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Sounds like a good excuse

    I mean, who doesn't go out and commit a huge investment scam whenever someone "verbally disparages" them? It was only last week that someone called me an arsehole, and now I've got the venture capitalists lining up outside the door to pour money into my scheme to develop the self-driving rollerskate.....

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Sounds like a good excuse

      Does this mean that you get richer every time I call you a wanker?

      What a bastard!

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    This is but a repeat of Genesis 3:12-13. The ages-old "he said", "she said"...

  12. batfink Silver badge

    "Erasing her capacity to make decisions"

    Yeah, right....

    This is the "It wasn't me guv, honest" defence.

    1. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: "Erasing her capacity to make decisions"

      Having seen footage of her, did he also (allegedly) only allow her to blink when he said so?

  13. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I just don't buy it.

    I've been fascinated by this case for a while and have read the John Carryrou book twice, and also seen the documentaries. To me it seems they both know it wouldn't work; they specifically put in place competitors equipment to complete the blood tests that they said that their solution was producing, and then lied to investors and other potential customers about contracts that they had with the US DoD. All of that is pretty much documented.

    Also the amount of testimony about how Theranos tried to prevent, and threatened anyone from speaking about "working at Theranos" is also telling.

    I get that EH was driven, but I also think she's a bit of a sociopath who (A) really REALLY wanted to be Steve Jobs, (B) Absolutely stage managed her image and voice, and (C) couldn't accept that her idea wouldn't work.

    Was she abused? Well, I don't know, but from what I've read most people say that she was a "force of personality" so I very much doubt it.

    Did Balwani abuse her, again, no idea - but he does come over as a bit of a self aggrandising twat / liar who probably will get everything he deserves.

    1. Imhotep Silver badge

      Re: I just don't buy it.

      Awful people seem to have a radar that allows them to find other awful people.

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: I just don't buy it.

        Perhaps, but I didn't get the sense from the book that EH started out to be awful. I got the sense that she genuinely believed she could, and was, changing the world. I think she got carried away with her own press and that brickbat Silicon Valley mentality that "impossible is just an opinion".

        More, she then put herself in a tight corner via the slow dripping of real-world design and test problems with the blood machines, which then led to the false statements, lies, mis-directions and threats to cover or hush them all up.

        Balwani on the other hand has been repeatedly proven as a serial liar and does read like a nasty and rotten fruit loop.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: I just don't buy it.

          It looks to me she had barely a concept and sold it as "already done" - even if she had no groundbreaking discovery or new technology to back it and make it real with some work.

          But the way she managed the whole affair with VCs and the media might tell she was well aware she had nothing real in her hands since the beginning, and still deliberately deceived.

          Maybe she bet she could find someone else, eventually, who could really implement and delivery what she just dreamed, or at least something alike, and make her a real heroine, before the fraud was exposed.

          But it didn't happen.

        2. BiffoTheBorg

          Re: I just don't buy it.

          I read the book and I agree, I think that for some time at least she really believed that she could make things happen by the force of her belief and personality and simply refusing to accept failure whereas all along Sunny was simply a crook and a bully.

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: I just don't buy it.

      What I found particularly interesting were the video clips of her working on her deep, constipated voice and expressionless stare.

      1. Anonymous Coward
  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > withdrew 'affection if she displeased him'

    What a surprise. I can't imagine someone doing something annoying and me not wanting to be affectionate to them at that moment.

  15. Mike Richards Silver badge

    'Bad Blood'

    John Carreyrou from the Wall Street Journal wrote a fantastic book about the whole Theranos scam called 'Bad Blood' which I can't recommend highly enough. He is now running a follow-up podcast about the trial. Lots of adverts, but the content is good:

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/introducing-bad-blood-the-final-chapter/id1575738174?i=1000528235677 (other podcast providers available).

    I'm still trying to get my head around a defence where the supposed victim retained more than 99% of the shares in Theranos.

  16. katrinab Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    My take:

    A lot of these business guru types teach that all you have to do is believe in something hard enough, and be really determined to make it happen; and it will happen.

    Holmes was very much signed up to that mindset, not listening to all the naysayers telling her that it was impossible and so on.

    The only problem was, that the naysayers were right,

    So, I think she probably genuinely believed that it was possible to deliver this thing.

    1. G.Y.

      Re: My take:

      Believeing "possible" != believing "it's there" !

      In other contexts, this is called socialist realism

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: My take:

      Not that I've been following, but she would have been enabled, in her delusions and exploits both, by the drivelling Media, who always want a new young female genius to coo over and proclaim the hope of the world.

      See also Politics and the slow parade of acclaimed for a month female politicians before discard. Americans not only want wives to follow husbands as presidents, but always predict the daughters of presidents will be excellent future presidents.

      [ Except with the Trumplings. ]

      .

      .

      As for Miss Holmes, never having seen nor heard her, the only definite conclusion I can come to is that she often had nice hair.

  17. Scott Broukell
    Coat

    I understand that, here in the UK at least, courtroom proceedings are to be broadcast on day-time TV, using the title "Holmes Under the Hammer". (mine are the long black robes and the funny antique hair piece, ta)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    withdrew 'affection if she displeased him'

    that BDSM charge alone is worth AT LEAST 260M USD (out of court settlement). Can we fast forward to 2045 to get to the verdict NOW?

  19. idiot taxpayer here again

    She apparently sis one thing I admire her for

    according to another article I read (maybe on Ars) she ripped 120 million out of that bastion of bastardness Murdoch. I wonder if she pulled the same trick on Theil

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “Who's the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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