Since the release of the explosive documentary about her Silicon Valley fraud, what has the disgraced tech founder been doing?
For those keeping tabs on the Elizabeth Holmes scandal, the date of 29 August 2018 is significant.
This is the date that most of the remaining employees at her disgraced Silicon Valley startup Theranos were packing up their desks and leaving their offices after their business’ value had been written down from $9 billion to zero. Three years after the Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou had published more than a dozen explosive reports detailing fraud within the company, in which Holmes was alleged to have lied to investors and the public about the efficacy of her blood testing products, Theranos was about to close its doors for the last time.
Holmes was nowhere to be seen. While the business she had dropped out of Stanford University to found quietly faded into the ether, Holmes was partying at the Burning Man festival in the middle of the Nevada desert with her new boyfriend Billy Evans. Holmes wore a shaggy fur jacket, with Evans’ MIT signet ring on a necklace around her neck, while Evans wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Sex for breakfast”.
Holmes and Evans are now engaged and living together in “a luxury apartment in San Francisco”, the Daily Mail reports, where they co-parent Holmes’ dog Balto. (Yes, the one reports claim she maintains is part wolf. Some of the other claims against Holmes include that she has faked her deep voice and that she never blinks.)
So what has Holmes been up to since the Theranos scandal? And who is Evans?
Who is Billy Evans?
It is not known exactly how long Holmes and Evans have been dating, although the tech founder was previously romantically linked to Theranos’ COO Sunny Balwani, who is also currently the subject of a criminal trial for fraud in California. (Both Holmes and Balwani pleaded not guilty.)
But according to Evans’ Instagram posts, which have since been turned private, the relationship has been going on for about a year. In a post celebrating Holmes’ birthday, he called her his “best friend” and said that “the last year has been the best I’ve ever had”, praising her “strength”.
Evans is 27 years old and was raised in California. His grandparents founded a luxury hotel group in 1953 that now owns three resorts in San Diego. Until January 2019, Evans was employed as Director of Special Projects at the driverless car company Luminar. His other jobs have included positions at LinkedIn and Red Bull.
What is Elizabeth Holmes doing right now?
Holmes is currently being tried in the Californian courts on the charges of defrauding investors and doctors and patients about the accuracy of Theranos’ Edison blood-testing machine. If found guilty, Holmes could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud and conspiracy.
While Theranos’ fraud has now widely been discussed, both in the news and in documentary The Inventor and podcast The Dropout, prosecutors will have to prove that Holmes knew that what her company was involved in was fraudulent and that she actively covered it up. That is the burden of proof, and the prosecutors have more than 12 million pages of documents through which to make their case, according to reports.
The trial is ongoing, with the first hearing slated at the San Jose courthouse on 22 April. There, lawyers on behalf of Holmes and Balwani – who is also being tried on the counts of fraud and conspiracy – might accept a plea bargain or they might discuss setting an official date for the trial.
This isn’t the first or, indeed, only legal case against Holmes. She has also recently settled a civil fraud case in which she was fined $500,000 and must refrain from taking on senior roles in business for the next decade. Walgreens, the pharmacy chain with whom Theranos had a partnership to host their Edison machines, is also suing the company for $140 million.
Holmes is spending most of her downtime waiting for the trial to begin on the campaign trail for herself.
She is meeting with filmmakers to work on a documentary about the “real” inside story of Theranos, according to Vanity Fair. She also wants to write a book about herself. She has swapped her trademark turtlenecks with athleisure pieces and, two sources told Vanity Fair, she says she is often stopped on the street by people who tell her that they’re on her side. “Elizabeth sees herself as the victim,” one source explained.
And, according to reporter John Carreyrou who first exposed the Theranos fraud, Holmes is currently traipsing around Silicon Valley trying to get people to invest in a new company.
Images: Getty, HBO