Yes. The Dropout true story confirms that like his daughter, Elizabeth Holmes' father also tried to peddle a product that never got off the ground, Enron's Clean Energy Solutions Group (CES). Under Christian "Chris" Holmes' leadership as Vice President, the environmental services product at Enron was set up to quantify and certify emissions reductions. Companies could hire Enron to carry out these tasks. The only problem was that it was a misfire out of the gate.
As with his daughter's vision, what looked good in theory was in reality a failure. For one, there was plenty of pushback against CO2 regulation in the U.S., and the Kyoto Protocol never made it to the Senate for ratification. Companies also found it more beneficial to their bottom lines to keep environmental activities, including CO2 regulation, in-house.
The environmental outsourcing initiative at Enron was disbanded in 1998. The company went under in 2001 after an accounting scandal cost shareholders billions. Elizabeth Holmes' father, Chris, went on to work for governmental agencies, including the USAID. -Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years
Yes. Holmes began attending Stanford University in 2002 with a focus on chemical engineering. In 2003 at age 19, she started the company that would eventually become Theranos. She dropped out of Stanford in 2004 to focus full-time on building the company. The Dropout fact-check confirms that, like in the Hulu miniseries, she used the savings her parents had allotted for her education to help fund the company, which was originally called Real-Time Cures.
Initially, she secured a patent for a drug-delivery patch that could adjust dosage based on variables in a patient's blood. That idea evolved into work on the Edison machine, a device that could perform rapid blood tests with only a fingerprick-size sample of blood.
While investigating how true is The Dropout on Hulu, we learned that the company name Theranos comes from a merger of the words "therapy" and "diagnosis." The Theranos website can still be viewed at the Wayback Machine.
Holmes claimed Theranos had invented a small microwave-sized machine, dubbed the Edison (pictured below), that could perform multiple blood tests with a single drop of blood. No longer would blood taken in a doctor's office need to be sent out to a laboratory to be analyzed. Instead of waiting 24 hours or more for results, doctors' offices could have blood test results rapidly and the cost would be a fraction of traditional lab work. Theranos' mission was for everyone to receive monthly blood tests via its Edison machines, which would help to catch diseases like cancer at their earliest. The technology was poised to revolutionize the field of medicine. The only problem was that their Edison blood-testing machines didn't work.
Yes. In the Hulu miniseries, Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) has a Steve Jobs poster on her wall as a teen. While researching The Dropout fact vs. fiction, we learned that it's also no accident that she chose to mimic Steve Jobs' style by wearing black turtlenecks, something she claims to have started doing at the age of five. The real Elizabeth Holmes' hero was indeed Jobs, and it's not hard to see that she was trying to position herself as an equally formidable visionary. She even referred to her Edison blood-testing machine as "the iPod of healthcare" and recruited Steve Jobs' former right-hand man Avie Tevanian. The problem was that Holmes seemed to focus more on embracing the attention that came with being seen as a visionary instead of making a blood-testing machine that actually worked.
Yes, at least far more than Julia Garner did while trying to mimic Anna Delvey's voice in the Netflix miniseries Inventing Anna. Garner embellished Delvey's accent too much, and Ozark fans were quick to point out the southern twang Garner uses for her character on that show coming through at times. As a result, it always felt like Garner was acting. By contrast, Amanda Seyfried nails the improbably deep register and halting cadence of Elizabeth Holmes' voice, in part by treating it as an affectation, or a way for Holmes' herself to dip into a more masculine character when she wants to seem more formidable, which seems accurate given what we know about the real Elizabeth Holmes and her aversion to confrontation.
Stanford professor Phyllis Gardner (played by Laurie Metcalf) says that she was shocked when she heard Elizabeth Holmes' deep voice, because the Theranos founder didn't have the deep voice years before when Gardner knew her. This helped to prove what some had come to suspect, Holmes' voice was part of an act.
Yes. The Dropout fact-check reveals that the 2013 agreement spearheaded by Walgreens Vice President of Health Innovation Jay Rosan (portrayed by Alan Ruck in the Hulu miniseries) led to more than 40 Theranos testing centers being situated inside Walgreens drugstores. Promoted as wellness centers, the facilities promised in-store blood testing. However, the blood samples were still being sent out to the labs at Theranos for testing, often yielding inaccurate results.
Elizabeth Holmes' ability to convince venture capitalists and private investors to back her company allowed her to raise over $945 million (CNBC). At its peak in 2013 and 2014, Theranos was valued at approximately $10 billion.
Yes. As seen in Hulu's The Dropout miniseries, the true story corroborates that The Wall Street Journal's John Carreyrou questioned the validity of Theranos' blood-testing technology in an October 16, 2015 article titled "Hot Startup Theranos Has Struggled With Its Blood-Test Technology." The article revealed that Theranos' Edison blood-testing machines were only being used to analyze a small fraction of blood samples. The rest were being analyzed with existing laboratory technology. Some employees had doubts with regard to the accuracy of the machines. Carreyrou's article also asserted that the data the company gave to regulators was cherrypicked.
In an attempt to save face, Theranos hit back at The Wall Street Journal story, calling it "factually and scientifically erroneous" and criticized Carreyrou's sources, stating that they were "inexperienced and disgruntled former employees and industry incumbents."
Yes. The HBO Theranos documentary and the Rebecca Jarvis podcast both emphasize the role of Elizabeth Holmes' boyfriend at the time, Sunny Balwani, who she first got to know while on a trip to China for a Mandarin immersion program. As in the series, she eventually appointed Balwani COO of Theranos to help fend off a challenge by her board members. She later claimed that Balwani was sexually abusive. Sunny Balwani is portrayed by Lost alum Naveen Andrews, who previously starred in the 2013 biopic Diana opposite Naomi Watts.
Yes. In fact, the miniseries uses real footage and digitally inserts Amanda Seyfried into video of the real Elizabeth Holmes being praised by Joe Biden and Bill Clinton.
Yes. This is chronicled in the Rebecca Jarvis podcast and HBO's The Inventor Elizabeth Holmes documentary. They tried to threaten into silence Tyler Shultz, the grandson of Theranos board member and former Secretary of State George Shultz, after he began to suspect Holmes was a fraud. They also targeted Theranos biochemist Ian Gibbons and new-hire Erika Cheung, who could see that the Edison blood-testing machine didn't work and that Holmes and Balwani were trying to sell a lie.
Yes. In researching how true is The Dropout, we discovered that in 2013, whistleblower Ian Gibbons attempted to overdose on Tylenol (acetaminophen) the night before he was set to testify. He died several days later of liver failure as a result of the overdose. He had also been recently diagnosed with cancer. Gibbon's widow, Rochelle, told CBS News that early into his work at Theranos, her husband knew there were problems. "He started talking to me about all these investments, all the money that the company is bringing in. And he told me that he couldn't imagine why people were giving the company any money because there was no invention, there was nothing there."
With the last remaining vestiges of her company having been dissolved in 2018, Elizabeth Holmes and former boyfriend and Theranos company president Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani were charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the case United States v. Elizabeth A. Holmes, et al. They faced 11 counts of fraud, including nine counts of wire fraud in addition to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Yes. At her trial in 2021, Holmes tried to pin Theranos' most malevolent acts on Sunny Balwani, her former boyfriend and the COO of Theranos. Hulu's The Dropout miniseries treats them as partners in crime, which seems to be more in line with the true story.
At the time of the release of Hulu's The Dropout miniseries, Elizabeth Holmes, 38, was living on a $135 million Silicon Valley estate with her husband, Billy Evans, heir to Evans Hotels, a family-owned group of San Diego hotels. She had begun dating Evans following the collapse of her company Theranos. On July 10, 2021, the pair welcomed their first child, a boy named William Holmes Evans. She is currently awaiting sentencing, which is set for September 12, 2022. She is expected to receive at least several years in prison.
"To get pregnant when you're undergoing a trial is the height of irresponsibility in my mind," says Phyllis Gardner (portrayed by Laurie Metcalf), who knew Holmes at Stanford. "What about the baby?!" Gardner says she believes that the pregnancy was planned. "It's the best way to garner sympathy, to try to keep herself out of prison." -60 Minutes Australia
Yes. Actress/comedian Kate McKinnon was originally supposed to portray Elizabeth Holmes in Hulu's The Dropout miniseries. So, why did Kate McKinnon leave The Dropout? McKinnon left the project in February 2021 due to scheduling issues, opting to instead play animal rights activist Carole Baskin in Peacock's limited series Joe vs. Carole, which premiered the same day as The Dropout, March 3, 2022. It would be hard to imagine McKinnon portraying Holmes without it looking like an SNL skit at times, especially when depicting Holmes at 18.
Yes, at least as of 2028 she can. In 2018, she accepted a ten-year ban from serving as a director or officer of a public company. This was part of an initial settlement agreement she reached with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This was prior to her trial and subsequent convictions. Foreseeably, she could operate a smaller private company during the ten-year ban, though it might be difficult for her to secure investors.