Elizabeth Holmes speaks for herself in her Theranos fraud case

Elizabeth Holmes, her hair down and her makeup muted from her days in Theranos, spelled her name for the court. After the prosecution finished its evidence in the morning, the defense called her as a third witness, about an hour before the end of the day. She wore a navy blazer with a white blouse – none of the famous black turtlenecks appeared in court during the months the case against her dragged on.

Holmes has faced 11 counts of wire fraud since her time as founder and CEO of Theranos. Although her testimony today is the first time she speaks for herself, we have already heard her voice – in the recordings of Fortune journalist Roger Parloff. In these recordings, she confidently lies about the capabilities of her device. And the lies that Parloff recorded were consistent with the lies her investors claimed she told them.

I don’t think I’m the only person wondering how she’s going to explain this. Now we will find out.

So far, Holmes hasn’t said much – we’ve learned about her upbringing, the time she spent at Stanford and dropped out to train Theranos. When his testimony ended today, it was still 2006, way before the time when the government alleges fraud occurred, which means most of the juicy stuff will have to wait until next week.

Holmes was in a good mood, smiling at his lawyer, Kevin Downey. She seemed relaxed and focused. Everyone I know has asked me about his voice. For what it’s worth, the most obnoxious part of The Voice Discourse is that most of these writers don’t have any musical training. She is not and never could have been a “baritone”, as Inc wrote – she’s not even a tenor! – and the idea that she would rise “by several octaves” when she speaks normally, as John Carreyrou writes in Bad bloodsuggests a “real” tone higher than the spoken voice of Kristen Chenoweth. It’s absurd.

Holmes sounds like a normal viola to me, although she has a habit of dropping her voice when hitting words she wants to underline. Then she looks like she has a cold, or maybe, like Jezebel Put it on, as if she was using her “stupid man’s impression” voice. If it’s an assignment, it’s one she’s had for so long that it’s only natural for her now. In any event, most of his speech is not at the low end of his range.

But the voice is part of the famous Holmes character, who I think we’ll be hearing more about in the coming days. The defense has indicated that it plans to continue questioning him throughout next week; if the prosecution’s cross-examination is less than two days, I will be surprised.

The story Holmes told in his testimony is well known. She dropped out of Stanford and used the rest of the money her parents saved from college, along with debt and money from family friends, to start a business called Real-Time Cures. She then changed the name to Theranos.

Originally, the idea was to create a pill or patch, which would analyze a person’s blood, allowing for more accurate dosing of drugs. But people seemed more interested in a tabletop device for blood testing than a pill or patch, so she changed focus.

She has raised funds from Don Lucas, an investor known for his association with Oracle, and Larry Ellison, among others. Lucas wanted to speak to some of the pharmaceutical companies that Theranos had worked with as part of his due diligence. So we were shown an email from 2005 where Holmes introduced Lucas to someone she had worked with at Pfizer. We also saw the answer: that he would be happy to talk to Lucas.

With the money Holmes raised, she created a device called Theranos 1.0, a photo of which was posted for the courtroom, and which to me looked like someone who had attached a thick antenna to a gray printer.

During this time, the business plan was to work with pharmaceutical companies on their clinical trials. She has spoken to Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Bristol Myers Squibb. Theranos signed agreements with GSK in September 2006, and with Pfizer in November 2006. The company also produced demos for Novartis and Eli Lilly.

We were even shown an email from Holmes to all the staff at Theranos about the Novartis demo. In the email of November 19, 2006, she wrote: “We got this one right. You all did an amazing job to make this happen – this is the Theranos Method. We’re on a roll to do what we need to do next month and in ’07.

We also saw a 2006 email from Holmes to Bob Grady, a partner of the Carlyle Group, when Holmes was fundraising. She lists the people at Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis with whom he can speak if he wishes to confirm their work with Theranos. Not all investors have asked for this information, she said.

And then we broke up for the day. The period during which the government alleges that there was fraud is still before us. We know from the opening statements that Holmes can blame Sunny Balwani, his co-accused who is being tried separately; the defense suggested his mistake was to trust him too much.

She can also allege that he abused her. In court documents unsealed in August, she alleged that he controlled what she ate, how she dressed and all of her communications. (Balwani denies it.) The abuse allegations explain why the two are being tried separately; an expert on abusive relationships, Mindy Mechanic, is on the defense witness list, although she cannot be called.

In his next testimony, which I expect to be long, I look forward to his explanation of the remarkably consistent lies that several people have testified to – that the Theranos devices were used in Afghanistan and on military helicopters, that the Theranos devices could perform over 200 tests, and that the company did not use competitor’s machines for testing. I am particularly interested in the upcoming cross-examination, where the government can use its vast body of statements, including those from the press, to ask questions.

But right now, we’ve just heard the story of a fledgling startup – a story that wouldn’t be interesting or unusual if it weren’t for the end of the business.

Source link

About Ernest Decker

Check Also

We just want our money back, say furious Wicksteed comedy concert ticket holders

Just John Bishop remains of the original announced roster. Furious ticket holders say they are …