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Elizabeth Holmes found guilty: The best films, podcasts, and reads about the Theranos fraudster

Fake it till you break it

Elizabeth Holmes found guilty: The best films, podcasts, and reads about the Theranos fraudster Image by: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch (edited)
Thomas Macaulay
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Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC. Writer at Neural by TNW — Thomas covers AI in all its iterations. Likes Werner Herzog films and Arsenal FC.

Silicon Valley’s trial of the century came to a close on Monday, when Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty on four of 11 charges of fraud.

The disgraced entrepreneur has had a remarkable rise and fall. After dropping out of Stanford to found blood-testing startup Theranos at the age of 19, Holmes was named the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire in 2014. Her company, meanwhile, had reached a valuation of around $9 billion.

Just four years later, however, Theranos had collapsed and Holmes was facing criminal fraud charges, following allegations that she’d lied about the blood-testing tech.

With a plot like a Hollywood movie and a protagonist reminiscent of a supervillain, the tale has spawned a riveting range of reads, films, and podcasts. Here is the TNW team’s pick of the bunch.

The Dropout

In The Dropout, ABC News reporter Rebecca Jarvis investigates the decline of Theranos. The gripping podcast features interviews with investors, employees, and patients, as well as the first-ever airing of Holmes’ deposition testimony.

The podcast was initially released as a six-part series in 2019, but returned with a series of new episodes about the trial in August 2021.

The science behind Theranos doesn’t add up

At the tail-end of 2018, The Verge released a YouTube video about the extraordinary claims of Theranos.

Using expert interviews and research studies, The science behind Theranos doesn’t add up explains the difficulties in producing such tech — and what we can realistically achieve in testing with a single drop of blood.

At just over five minutes in length, the film provides a concise explanation of a complex subject.

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

In The Inventor, Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney chronicles the tale of Theranos and its enigmatic founder. The 2019 documentary explores the anatomy of the scam and the broader implications of bold promises in big tech.

Gibney won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay for his script for the film.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

John Carreyrou’s reporting for the Wall Street Journal played a key role in exposing the Theranos scandal. The journalist later turned his investigation into a critically-acclaimed book: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.

The book is now being adapted into a feature film by Don’t Look Up director Adam McKay, which will star Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes.

That’s not the only forthcoming portrayal of the fraudster. Amanda Seyfried will also play the Theranos founder in Hulu’s The Dropout, a miniseries based on The Dropout, which premieres on March 3.

With sentencing still to come and the potential of a lengthy appeal process, there may be further plot twists before the series is released.

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