Rising Tech Star Finds Herself in the Hot Seat

Questions arise about her company's revolutionary blood-testing technology
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2015 2:18 PM CDT
Rising Tech Star Finds Herself in the Hot Seat
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos Inc.   (Screenshot)

A 31-year-old tech billionaire and Stanford dropout has gone from gracing the covers of magazines to defending her revolutionary blood-testing company against charges that its work is inaccurate and misleading, the New York Times reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos 12 years ago because she had a fear of needles. The company sought to use new technology to perform more than 200 types of blood tests using only finger pricks. But last week the Journal published two stories calling out Theranos for performing only one test—for herpes—with blood from finger pricks and using traditional blood draws and technology for everything else. It also cited former employees who claimed Theranos diluted its tiny blood draws to make them work with traditional technology, leading to greater risks of errors.

Holmes addressed those claims onstage during a Journal-sponsored tech conference Wednesday, the Times reports. “We know the integrity of what we’ve done,” she told the audience. According to the Journal, Holmes claimed the company is in a "pause period" with its unique blood-testing technology while it awaits FDA approval. She denied any faults with performance or accuracy. Business Insider reports Theranos issued a full rebuttal of the Journal's claims Thursday. The rebuttal questions the motivations of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote the original articles, as well as his anonymous sources. "From his very first interactions with Theranos, the reporter made abundantly clear that he considered Theranos to be a target to be taken down," the rebuttal states. But, as the Times notes, the Journal isn't Holmes' only trouble; a few other prominent people have also raised questions about Theranos tests. (Click to see how Holmes was being covered in the press just last year.)

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