The story of Elizabeth Holmes and her failed, and bankrupt start-up is known as Theranos, fairly glows with the light of an illusionist. According to some very big names, the latest being former Secretary of Defense, retired General James Mattis of the Marine Corps, Holmes made promised that sounded stunning if she could deliver on them.
In court this week, Mattis explained.
During more than three hours of maskless testimony delivered behind plexiglass, Mattis recalled how impressed he was with Holmes when he first met her in 2011 while still serving a four-star general in the Marine Corps, where he oversaw U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A few months after retiring from the military in 2013, Mattis joined the Theranos board and also invested some of his own savings in the startup. In 2017, Mattis joined the cabinet of President Donald Trump.
Mattis, nicknamed “Mad Dog,” while he was in the military, testified that Holmes initially struck him as a “sharp, articulate, committed” CEO who drew his interest when she described the compact blood-testing machine called Edison that Theranos was developing.
Holmes assured him that the Edison would be able to scan for health problems with just a finger prick — a concept that Mattis testified he found “pretty breathtaking'” for its potential applications in the field of battle.
“I’m a strong believer in what you have designed/built and hope we can get it in the theater soon to test it,” Mattis wrote in a March 2013 email shortly before he retired from the military. In other emails, Mattis affectionately addressed Holmes as “young Elizabeth.”
But those designs, what was reportedly being built, was all a sham in the end, and some illustrious names have surfaced as to being the victims of a young, beautiful con artist. Mattis, like many other board members, not only was paid to be on the board but invested some of his own cash in the company.
Theranos’ other board members included other former Cabinet members such as the late George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and former Wells Fargo Bank CEO Richard Kovacevich. The list of billionaire investors that once valued the privately held company at $9 billion — with half of the stock owned by Holmes — included media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Walmart’s Walton family, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
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