Running Out the Clock

The disgraced CEO of Theranos may actually begin serving her 11-year sentence sometime soon, as her options to delay reporting to prison dwindle

Ex-CEO of Theranos and Poster woman of girl-bossing too close to the sun Elizabeth Holmes may soon begin her 11-year sentence behind bars. On Tuesday, an appeals court rejected a bid to remain free while she fights to overturn her conviction, according to the Associated Press. In a separate ruling, she was ordered to pay restitution to victims.

Since being found guilty in January 2022 of defrauding investors in her blood-testing startup, Holmes has been trying her damnedest to stay out of prison. In addition to procedural efforts, she appears to be angling for a sympathetic comeback as the mother of two young children. (She went through both of her pregnancies after legal proceedings against her began.) A recent New York Times profile rebranded her as “Liz,” and the author went to the zoo with Liz and the kids. 

Following her conviction, Holmes had been free on bail. After being sentenced last November, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila had ordered Holmes to surrender on April 27. On April 10, Davila had denied her request to remain free while she appealed her conviction. Then, the day before she was scheduled to go to prison, she had filed an appeal to the judge’s decision on the start date of her sentence, automatically buying herself additional time for the motion to be processed, according to the AP. Three weeks later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied her latest bid to stay free.


In a separate ruling on Tuesday, the AP reported, Judge Davila ordered Holmes to pay $452 million in restitution to victims of her crimes. She is being held jointly liable for the amount with her ex-boyfriend and Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. Balwani is already serving his prison sentence after being convicted of 12 fraud charges related to his work with the company in a separate trial.

Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 and promised to revolutionize healthcare with technology that could run hundreds of lab tests from just a drop of blood taken with a finger prick. She raised $945 million from investors, and the company eventually reached a $9 billion valuation. But a jury found she had lied to investors about the company’s technological capabilities in pursuit of money and fame. As one of the few tech sector CEOs to face criminal fraud charges, Holmes and her case have come to represent the dark side of Silicon Valley’s hustle culture and the potential consequences of the “fake it till you make it” mindset.