Skip to content

Elizabeth Holmes’s Defense Rests on Her Force of Personality

  • Theranos CEO described living with strict diet, little sleep
  • Former tech wunderkind faces 20 years in prison for fraud
Elizabeth Holmes, center, leaves federal court in San Jose, Calif. on Dec. 8.

Elizabeth Holmes, center, leaves federal court in San Jose, Calif. on Dec. 8.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Elizabeth Holmes built a startup into a $9 billion company based on promises and the force of her personality. Now, her defense team is relying on that same charisma to win her acquittal.  

Over the course of seven days of testimony at her fraud trial, Holmes spoke -- sometimes tearfully -- about her swift ascent as a tech wunderkind before her company collapsed in 2018. The 37-year-old also did something out of character for the founder of Theranos Inc.: she appeared vulnerable. She told the jury that she aimed to do good in the world, and spoke of a controlling boyfriend whom she made president of her blood-testing startup.