“It’s never smooth,” said Holmes. “There are always challenges.”
Theranos eventually collapsed after a series of explosive Wall Street Journal articles and federal regulatory scrutiny revealed serious and potentially dangerous errors in the company’s blood tests. The scandal wiped Holmes’ fortune, which was valued at $ 4.5 billion in 2014 when it was the subject of a shining cover story in Fortune magazine.
Holmes addressed several tingling areas that prosecutors highlighted when presenting their case during the first 10 weeks of the trial. But she and her lawyers still haven’t touched a hot topic they’ve suggested as an important defense: whether Holmes was secretly manipulated into unethical behavior by her former lover and Theranos’ former chief operating officer Sunny Balwani.
In court documents that were unsealed shortly before the trial began in early September, Holmes’ lawyers accused Balwani of having exposed Holmes to “intimate partner abuse”. Balwani, who faces separate fraud proceedings next year, has denied these allegations through his attorney.
Balwani’s role as an executive at Theranos began on Tuesday for the first time since Holmes late last week. At one point, Holmes indirectly criticized Balwani for a gruff email from 2013 in which he scolded former Theranos manager Surekha Gangakhedkar in the middle of the night. Gangakhedkar, who said she had raised concerns about issues with Theranos’ technology, eventually resigned after experiencing stress.
Holmes told the jury they regretted this episode with Gangahedkar. “This is the wrong way to treat people,” she said.
Balwani also produced a number of financial projections that were at the heart of the process, according to Holmes. In documents distributed to prospective investors, Theranos projected annual sales of $ 140 million in 2014 and $ 990 million in 2015. Other evidence presented during the trial showed that the company is never even close to achieving these goals had achieved.
Holmes testified that the 2015 sales forecast was largely based on an expected expansion into 3,000 Walgreens stores, which never materialized after the retailer withdrew from its Theranos partnership.
Another moment of regret came when she took responsibility for including the logo of Pfizer, a major drug company, in a report extolling the effectiveness of Theranos’ technology. That decision came after an internal Pfizer report that Holmes said she had never seen expressed doubts about the reliability of Theranos’ blood tests.
“I wish I had done it differently,” said Holmes. Several investors have testified that seeing the Pfizer logo on the report helped convince them to invest in Theranos.
Holmes, who raised nearly $ 1 billion after founding Theranos in 2003, has faced allegations of defrauding investors, patients, and business associates while running the company in Palo Alto, California. If convicted, she faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years.