The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes: The Massive Scam of Theranos

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About this sample


Words: 1573 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Words: 1573|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

In the extreme cases of the world’s worst leaders Elizabeth Holmes stands out significantly because of the scale and how recent her massive scam took place. The story of Elezabth and her company Thernos is one that is intertwined. Her company Thernos was once valued at $9 billion with a bright future conveying in massive attention and wealth but was later discovered to be a massive scam.

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Elizabeth Anne Holmes since a very young age she had dream that one day she would be a prosperous entrepreneur. She famously at a very age, respond to questions from her family about her future with elaborate answers such as “I want to be a billionaire”. She was never told she couldn’t accomplish anything she wanted. Some say her ambition came from her parents Christian and Noel Holmes. If you trace back Elizabeth’s family, it leads as far back to the Marechal Davout, one of Napoleon’s top field general. Down the timeline comes a Hungarian immigrant named Charles Louis Fleischman. Born in the 1800’s he was the founder of a famous Yeast Company, Fleischmann’s yeast, that would turn the family into one of the riches families of the twentieth century. Her Great-great-grandfather was a Danish physician by the name of Christian Holmes, who later created the Cincinnati’s medical school and the Cincinnati’s General Hospital. Christian used his already wealthy’s family connection to gather up business and political connections to make all his ambitions a reality. Elizabeth’s mother, Noel, was a West Point graduate that later worked in the pentagon during the 1970s and later at Capitol Hill as a Congressional committee staffer, foreign-policy and a defense aide. Even with an impressive past, the family was not perfect, many of the family members battled with alcoholism and personal problems. Elizabeth’s father Christian Rasmus Holmes IV or Chris for short, worked at numerous executive positions in counties as a part of government agencies such as the state department. He wanted Elizabeth to reinstate the family’s ambition. He would teacher her about the family’s past, good and bad. Chris would always blame his father and grandfather for recklessness and weaken of the family’s fortune.

Elizabeth Anne Holmes was born February 3, 1984 in Washington DC. Throughout her childhood she was a lanky girl with big blue eyes and creative mind. She was always labeled as being extremely competitive but never apart of the popular crowd. She bounced around prestigious schools throughout the United States as her parents moved for work. She struggled with eating disorders as an effort to fit in with her peers but would always maintain focus at school. Elizabeth was an honor student studying late until night and getting little rest. Elizabeth father arranged for a tutor to come in every Saturdays to teach her Mandarin.

She was later fluent enough were she was the only non-college student to attend a special Stanford Mandarin program that later sent her for a four-week program in Beijing. Elizabeth claims she was interested in computer programming began her first business selling C++ compilers to Chinese universities. Elizabeth knew what her end goal was, to become and entrepreneur. She set her sights on joining Stanford to pursue a degree in Biochemistry. Elizabeth knew Stanford would be for her because she desired nothing less than the best possible education. She wanted to be sounded by top professors and like-minded peers that share her same ambitions.

In her nonacademic life she would travel heavily. Her mother Noel would fly young Elizabeth and her smaller brothers down to Boca Raton, Florida. Where her aunt and uncle had a luxurious condominium. During her late years in high school she dated the son of a cherished orthopedic surgeon. The couple would fly around the country attending elaborate events. The house in which she grew up was covered of photography of her father during his time overseeing humanitarian efforts and distressed countries around the world. This was in his attempt to discipline Elizabeth on the importance of living a purposeful life and not just chase economic gain. Because her interest was in biochemistry engineering, she had to create something that would not just make her money but would change the industry itself.

In the spring of 2002 Elizabeth was accepted into Stanford university with a prestigious Presidents Scholar that came with a grant towards an intellectual interest of her liking. This was a pinnacle moment of Elizabeth’s life and would set the stage for everything to come. Very early in her time in Stanford she met Professor Robertson the head of Stanford’s chemical engineering department. The two made a connection with Elizabeth later helping him out in his own research lab. He was impressed enough to recommended her to his Ph.D. students working on research projects. “I have never encountered a student like this before of the then thousands of students that I had talked to” Roberson new she was special and contained a high degree of determination. Shortly after Elizabeth started her company incorporating with the name Real-Time cures, with professor Robertson joined the board and other students from school becoming the first workers. Elizabeth later changed the name to “Theranos, a combination of the words Therapy and diagnosis”. Elizabeth was able to unite massive support from vary prominent people with deep pockets. The money began to flow into the new startup and so Elizabeth kept on experimenting with new ideas. She applied for various patents going through with a few of them until she came to a realization on what the industry was actually in need for. “A cartridge-and-reader system that blended the fields of microfluidics and biochemistry. The patient would prick her finger to draw a small sample of blood and place it in a cartridge that looked like a thick credit card. The cartridge would slot into a bigger machine called the reader”. This was an industry wide game changer if it could be brought to the market. Patients would be able to send results to their doctor instantly wherever they pleased. The whole project had enormous potential and in response the team at Thernos dropped everything and solely focused on this project. The team began to grow and make significant progress adding different elements to the company such as marketing and human resources. Elizabeth developed an obsession with progress and implement a higher than normal bar of standard for the company. This might have been because of her personal way of dealing with work; no sleep, coffee through the day and endless hours until getting to the end of a task.

“One evening when Elizabeth came by his workspace. She was frustrated with the pace of their progress and wanted to run the engineering department twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to accelerate development. Ed though that was a terrible idea. His team was working long hours as it was”. Here became the first of Thernos problems that because were never corrected would snowball into huge problems. Early on, even with company growing problematic rumors emerged and employee morale was low. It didn’t take long for problems to occur from Thernos’s start. Employees attempted to push back against her work beliefs with Elizabeth famously responding “I don’t care. We can change people in and out, The company is all that matters” Elizabeth pushed for her engineer’s to work round-the-clock shifts. Employee’s where taught to lie during press conferences because Theranos’s technology most often wouldn’t work. When workers departed the company, it was never explained or announced.

Elizabeth wanted a clear disconnection from the workers and what was going around them. This was the next huge red flag, The lack of communication between different departments. Elizabeth would section off different departments and make communication very difficult even if the offices of two departments were across the hall from each other. This was intentional of Elizabeth, as it was brought up to her many times, yet she never changed a thing. She wanted to be the only person with full oversight of what was going on throughout the whole company. Tensions grew between Elizabeth and her employees as they resisted to her outrageous requests to work harder and for longer times, creating further disconnection from the employees and Elizabeth. The chief financial officer of Theranos, Henry Mosley was shocked after he realized because of his confidence in the company he had been inflating future revenues, yet the technology was not working. He was later fired by Elizabeth and labeled him not being a “team player” after bringing the topic up with her. The company was burning cash at the moment buying millions of dollars of equipment as well as constantly hiring and firing workers.

There were major problems within the development of the actual product itself. Elizabeth desired the cartridge to fit in the palm of her hand, which was reportedly not possible by the engineering department. But nether less she wanted it like so and wouldn’t have it another way.

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To fulfill all that was promised by the capsule It would have required to draw more blood from the patient, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Problems of leakage, timing and inaccuracy were all problems that could not be seemed to fix no matter how much resources and time were dedicated. A trend began to develop as Elizabeth wanted and expected something as well as market it to the public even if it was truly impossible. Elizabeth and thermos were in trouble, they needed a breakthrough and fast.  

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The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes: The Massive Scam of Theranos. (2024, January 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes: The Massive Scam of Theranos.” GradesFixer, 31 Jan. 2024,
The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes: The Massive Scam of Theranos. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
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