Now Holmes is about to head into a San Jose, California, courtroom to defend herself against criminal allegations depicting her as the devious mastermind of a fraud that duped wealthy investors, former U.S. government officials and patients whose lives were endangered by a blood-testing technology that never came close to fulfilling her bold promises.
If convicted by a jury in a trial, Holmes could be sentenced to 20 years in prison — a stunning reversal of fortune for an entrepreneur whose wealth once was pegged at $4.5 billion. That amount represented her 50% stake in Theranos, a Palo Alto, California, biotech startup she founded in 2003 after dropping out of Stanford University at the age of 19.
Besides rehashing Holmes’ stunning rise and fall, the three-month trial may also shine a light on how style sometimes overshadows substance in Silicon Valley, which prides itself on an ethos of logic, data and science over emotion.
Holmes’ saga has peeled back the curtain on a “fake it until you make it” strategy that’s been adopted by other ambitious startups who believe that with just a little more time to perfect their promised breakthroughs they can join the hallowed ranks of Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech pioneers that sprang up in the 50-mile corridor from San Francisco to San Jose.
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