After the $1 Billion Downfall: What Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos Team Are Up to Now

As she awaits trial, the disgraced inventor is spending time with her new beau, new dog and planning a comeback

By Tierney Bricker 22 Mar, 2019 6:00 PMTags

And Taylor Swift thought she had bad blood.

After the debut of the HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, the best-selling book Bad Blood, and the hit podcast The Dropout, it's safe to say we're all obsessed with Elizabeth Holmes right now. It's almost hard not to be, after learning the details of the $1 billion downfall of her company Theranos, which was set to completely change the healthcare industry thanks to her groundbreaking technology. Alas, it was really too good to be true, as her blood-testing device never actually worked and she was charged with 11 counts of fraud.

But it wasn't just the scam of it all that has captured people's attention; it's Holmes herself, a woman so interesting and confusing that Jennifer Lawrence is set to play her in an upcoming film. (We predict another Oscar nomination, at the very least.)

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After the Downfall: What Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos Team Are Up to Now

She dropped out of college at 19. She was obsessed with Steve Jobs. She only wore black turtlenecks and drank green juices. She was secretly dating the president and COO of her company, who was almost two decades older than her. She had a way of convincing older, powerful men to believe and invest in her. And then there's the voice

But since the downfall of Theranos, which closed up shop for good in 2018 after once being valued at almost $10 billion, Holmes, who was once a main fixture on magazine covers and TV shows being touted as the next Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, the 35-year-old has virtually become a ghost. 

So what is Holmes up to today? And what about the rest of the Theranos team, including the whistleblowers and her mentor? 

Here's what we were able to find...

Elizabeth Holmes

After Theranos' demise, Holmes retreated from the public eye...but has a rather robust private life, despite facing up to 20 years in prison (though she plead not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud). 

According to Vanity Fair's Nick Bilton, Holmes is living in a San Francisco luxury apartment and is engaged to a hospitality heir currently working in the tech field. He's eight years younger and she reportedly wears his MIT class ring on a chain around her neck. Bilton also shared photos from Holmes' private social media account of the couple on his Twitter account.) She also adopted a dog, named Balto, though she tells people he is "a wolf" when they ask his breed. 

"Elizabeth sees herself as the victim," a source close to Holmes told Vanity Fair, adding, "One of Elizabeth's superpowers is she never looks back."

In his report, Bilton noted Holmes ditched the black turtlenecks for "athleisure," and has a "chipper" outlook...even looking to start another company and gauging interest in a book deal or documentary to tell her side of the story.

A trial date has yet to be set for Holmes, though she is expected back in court in San Francisco on April 22 for a status hearing.

Oh, and when it comes to her infamous voice, the possibly fake baritone, her family members insisted to TMZ that it is real, and low voices run in the Holmes family. 

Jennifer Lawrence is set to play her in a film, based on Bad Blood, directed by Vice's Adam McKay, though no release date has been set.

 

Sunny Balwani

Holmes and Theranos' president and COO were secretly dating for years, even living together, without disclosing the information to its board members, investors or anyone else. The couple split in 2016, with Holmes firing Balwani, and later detailing the breakup in her deposition, which was obtained by The Dropout

"Once we started working together it was a very intense relationship and that romantic piece that was there at the very beginning died," Holmes said. "I don't think it happened in one moment, but it was very clear we were colleagues."

Like Holmes, he is expected to appear in a San Francisco court on April 22 for a status hearing, and a trial date has yet to be set. He also entered a plea of not guilty to the nine charges, and  has maintained his innocence. 

"Mr. Balwani committed no crimes," his lawyer told Vanity Fair. "He did not defraud Theranos investors, who were among the most sophisticated in the world. He did not defraud consumers, but instead worked tirelessly to empower them with access to their own health information. Mr. Balwani is innocent, and looks forward to clearing his name at trial."

Unlike Holmes, Balwani did not agree to the charges against him from the SEC, and the case is ongoing. Balwani, who is 19 years Holmes' senior, has mostly remained out of the public eye, with his lawyer speaking on his behalf. 

Tyler Shultz

Arguably Theranos' loudest whistleblower was also its most connected, as his grandfather is George Shultz, one of Theranos' most well-respected board members after serving of Secretary of State and one of Holmes' mentors. In fact, the elder Schultz believed in her so much that he actually sided with her over his own grandson, who joined the company in 2014, after he tried to explain the concerns he had. His grandfather even attempted to dissuade him from speaking out with the threat of legal action at one point, but the young Shultz still spoke out, acting as one of the main sources in Carreyrou's WSJ article. 

Despite the family and legal drama, Shultz is happy he is one of the people who publicly spoke out about Holmes and Theranos.

"Luckily, I look back and have very few regrets. I'm pretty proud of myself for everything that I did. So things worked out really well," Shultz told Refinery29. "I don't think about it that much."

Grandfather and grandson made amends, with George Shultz telling ABC News in a statement that his grandson "did not shrink from what he saw as his responsibility to the truth...even when he felt personally threatened and believed that I had placed allegiance to the company over allegiance to higher values and our family." 

In 2017, Shultz started his own medical diagnostics company, Flux Biosciences, which "utilizes magnetic sensing to bring the power of medical grade in-vitro diagnostics into the homes of consumers and patients."

Erika Cheung

The other big Theranos whistleblower who spoke to Carreyrou, despite intimidation tactics from the company so severe she even used a burner phone for a period of time, Cheung now lives in Hong Kong, and per the LA Times, runs an early-stage technology accelerator called Betatron for founders and start-ups.

"I think we're on the right side of history. We've gotten lucky in a certain way. You look at a lot of these huge fraud stories—Harvey Weinstein is a good example—and there's been many instances where whistle-blowers do not fare well," she told the publication. "So it was a big relief once the company went under that we did come out of this OK and it didn't damage our careers."

Like Shultz, she has no regrets about speaking out, saying, "It wasn't that we were trying to be alarmist or sabotage her or that, as she thought, we were trying to come after her and had some vendetta against her. I think we were all motivated by the fact that you can't endanger the life of patients. This is healthcare."

Though she only worked at the company for seven months in 2013, Cheung admitted to being "completely infatuated" with the idea of Holmes before working at Theranos on The Dropout podcast.

"Even having lived through the experience, the documentary was really insightful and offered a fresh perspective on Theranos case," she tweeted of the HBO doc in January. "A cautionary tale any entrepreneur can learn from."

Ana Arriola

Ana Arriola was one of the first people Holmes poached from Apple in order to help give the Edison a sleek design a la the iPhone, which the product designer helped create.

After giving up 15,000 Apple shares to help Holmes in her mission to change the world, Arriola quickly began noticing Holmes' odd behavior, including her obsession with Jobs. And the chief design architect is actually the one who told her where to get the exact same black turtlenecks he wore, "And the rest is couture history," Arriola said in The Dropout.

Ariola resigned after just four months when she discovered the still-unfinished device's results were possibly being used to help treat actual patients, saying, "I just literally had nothing I wanted to do with that company anymore."

Today, Arriola is the general manager and a partner at Microsoft, after working as the director of product design in AI for Facebook.

"Courage to take a stand and establish boundaries professionally, personally..."Resolve, grit, and tenacity to not let hard life lessons brake you, rather grow, learn, teach others from these experiences," Arriola tweeted on March 16, along with the peace sign and rainbow flag emojis. "Grateful to @VicThompsonABC's 20/20 #Theranos #TheDropout documentary team." 

Justin Maxwell, Adam Vollmer and Mike Bauerly

The former design director and engineer designer also spoke to the bizarre culture at Theranos, with Maxwell joining Arriola's team after working with her at Apple. (Yes, another Apple recruit.) Like everyone else, they were blown away by Holmes during their first meeting with her, as Bauerly said on The Dropout, "She has a lot of conviction in her vision, you know, 'We're changing the world.'"

And like everyone else, the trio quickly caught on that things were not quite right after joining the team to help design the look of the Edison. 

"Not a lot of camaraderie, a lot paranoia," is how Maxwell described the vibe in the Theranos offices, with Vollmer explaining she kept the departments separate, so on one was communicating (aka figuring out what was going on). 

Bauerly now works as a designer for Google, specifically in their AI department, while Vollmer, who literally wrote, "Oh, Theranos," on his Linkedin, now works as Nike's principal system engineer, and won an Emmy for his time as a TV host on a public show.  

Maxwell, who quit in epic fashion—sending Holmes two management books and a resignation letter that shockingly did not go viral, comparing her to Michael Scott from The Office in it—he is the founder and chief design officer of Smith.ai. (He also worked at Google after his time at Theranos.)

"Don't contact me about Theranos, just go read Carreyrou's book," his Linkedin reads. "First designer. Left once I figured out what was going on. Buy John Carreyrou's book, ‘Bad Blood', if you want to know more about my experience here."

Avie Tevanian

Holmes' biggest get from Apple? Tevanian, Jobs' righthand man who had since retired after leading the team that developed Mac OS X BTW, have you updated recently?). But he chose to return to the tech world after meeting with Holmes, joining her board of directors in 2006.

He quickly sensed something wasn't right.

"I think what she didn't expect was that I would actually ask a lot of questions and that if things weren't going as they should be going that I would ask tough questions," Tevanian said in The Dropout. After constantly questioning Holmes, Tevanian was eventually confronted by other board members and when he said he would only stay on if she was replaced by a more qualified person as Theranos' CEO, the board sided with their young boss. Asked to resign, Tevanian then left the company.

"I was done with Theranos," he told ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis. "I had seen so many things that were bad go on. I would never expect anyone would behave the way that she behaved as a CEO. And believe me, I worked for Steve Jobs. I saw some crazy things. But Elizabeth took it to a new level."

Tevanian is one of the co-founders of NextEquity Partners, and serves as its managing editor. 

Dr. Phyllis Gardner

Despite Holmes' ability to charm older white businessman, assembling an impressive all-male board of directors at Theranos, there was one person who told her what she was trying to do was impossible from day one: Dr. Phyllis Gardner, the well-respected and revered professor of medicine at Stanford. 

When Holmes was a freshman, she proposed her idea to Dr. Gardner, who quickly told her it was just not possible.

"[She] just kind of blinked her eyes and nodded, and left," Dr. Gardner recalled in the 20/20 special. "It was just a 19-year-old talking who'd taken one course in microfluidics, and she thought she was gonna make something of it."

Dr. Gardner still teaches at Stanford and still has zero time for Holmes, calling her out for her (presumed) fake accent and aligning "herself with very powerful older men who seemed to succumb to a certain charm," per her interview in The Inventor

Channing Robertson

After Dr. Gardner kept rejecting then-freshman Holmes' idea, telling her it was impossible, she moved on to Channing Robertson, Stanford's professor of chemical engineering and the dean of the engineering school, who quickly became her mentor. And eventually her employee, as he was the first to join Theranos' board, comparing Holmes to iconic figures in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine.

 "I think there are people who are the Mozarts and the Beethovens and the Newtons, the Lavoisiers and the Einsteins and the da Vincis, who come along rarely in a generational sense," he said. "These people who become scientists and artists and musicians, I think, possess a very special capability. It was becoming more and more clear to me that she had it. I was in the presence of somebody who was unlike anything that I had seen before."

Oops. After Theranos' demise, Robertson still works at Stanford as "professor Emeritus, Vice Provost and Dean of Research." 

Michael Craig

Theranos' software engineer is one of the few former employees who has had contact with Holmes since the company ended; though he didn't exactly plan to see her. 

In February 2019, Craig ran into Holmes and her fiance while at a restaurant in Sausalito, California, detailing the awkward encounter in The Dropout.  "I wonder what story she's been telling him," he said of her companion, "and herself, really." 

And she didn't look like the boss he had worked for years ago.

"She was dressed in a dark hoodie and jeans and didn't look to have any makeup on or anything...she looked very young," he said. "She seemed a little bit worn-down, but she didn't seem like somebody who had done anything wrong."