Elizabeth Holmes explains her one regret

In her defense, the former Theranos CEO admitted she put faked logos on reports sent to investors and partners. She wished she'd done that "differently."

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes sits in the backseat of a car after leaving the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building.

Theranos founder CEO Elizabeth Holmes sits in the back seat of a car after leaving court Tuesday.

Photo: Ethan Swope/Getty Images

Regrets? She had a few. One, really.

As her testimony continued Tuesday on charges of fraud in her management of failed blood-testing startup Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes maintained she never meant to mislead her partners.

Holmes admitted she herself added Pfizer and Schering-Plough logos without authorization from the pharmaceutical makers to the top of reports sent to its largest partner, Walgreens. She claims she did this to convey that the reports were compiled "in partnership" with the companies, not to give the impression they came directly from the companies.

"I wish I'd done it differently," she said of the faked reports.

It was a rare show of regret for Holmes, who offered broad apologies in media appearances after Theranos' tests were shown to be faulty. (In 2016, the company voided two years of test results given to patients from its testing equipment after reports of problems at its labs.)

Even then, in her testimony Tuesday, she basically chalked the misleading report up to a misunderstanding. She then jumped into a litany of excuses, largely casting the blame for Theranos' failure on external forces beyond her control.

Holmes said Walgreens pressured Theranos to use a central laboratory for the first phase of its rollout of testing centers in the drugstore chain, rather than putting its blood-testing devices inside stores as originally designed. That meant patient samples came in all at once, which posed problems for the company's proprietary Edison devices.

"It's never smooth," Holmes said regarding laboratory operations. "There's always challenges."

That led the company to use commercial testing devices from Siemens in its lab, a change it did not disclose to partners. Its reliance on third-party devices was only later publicly revealed by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou in a 2015 article.

Holmes said she was unaware that Theranos' agreement with Walgreens wasn't on steady footing, even though the company had only opened 40 blood-testing centers by mid-2014, far short of the goal of 3,000 locations by that time. She testified that she "knew issues were coming up," but thought the partnership was going well overall. She said then-COO Sunny Balwani did not tell her the rollout had slowed to a halt, and that she didn't get any complaints about testing inaccuracies. She also said Walgreens' combination with British health care company Alliance Boots and the departure of CFO Wade Miquelon, a key contact for the partnership, soured her relationship with the company. Walgreens closed all of its testing centers and sued Theranos for breach of contract in 2016.

Holmes also discussed another deal that foundered after a key executive sponsor left. In 2010, she said, Theranos began talks with Safeway, a grocery chain which has drugstore operations in many stores. Holmes said that the departure of CEO Steve Burd in 2013 "reset" its relationship with Theranos. She said the partnership ultimately ended in 2016 without ever putting Theranos devices in Safeway stores, claiming that "laboratory and regulatory issues" got in the way. News reports in 2015 suggested that the partnership had been dormant for years at that point.

The trial Tuesday drew a slightly smaller crowd than Monday. A fan shouted "God bless you, girlboss" as Holmes and her cohort swiftly walked up to the courthouse doors. Another spectator sold Holmes merch, including blonde wigs, "blood" energy drinks and her signature black turtleneck for $40 a pop.

Holmes' testimony is set to resume next Monday. Next comes a cross-examination by the prosecution that's likely to prove intense.


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep ReadingShow less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep ReadingShow less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories