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Does Elizabeth Holmes Fake Her Deep Voice?

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Does Elizabeth Holmes Fake her deep voice

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was the subject of the Friday, March 15th episode of 20/20. HBO's The Inventor comes out today. Both take in-depth looks at the incredible rise and spectacular fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her blood testing company Theranos. Once upon a time, Elizabeth Holmes was the biotech industry's darling. She was written about in and covered by dozens of media outlets. Thanks to the incredible success of her company, she had amassed a $4.5 billion net worth (on paper). She was the youngest female self-made billioniare. She was heralded as an innovator and genius. Unfortunately, those days are over. Today, the fortune is gone and the Stanford drop out is facing fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of the things that came up during the 20/20 episode was the fact that Holmes idolized Steve Jobs. She modeled her wardrobe after the Apple co-founder. She even changed her voice to be much deeper — or so some people think. Does Elizabeth Holmes fake her deep voice?

1. Fear of needles

Eilzabeth Holmes grew up in Houston, Texas indending to become a doctor like her great-great-grandfather Christian R. Holmes, who was dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine as well as a surgeon, engineer, and inventor. However, her fear of needles kept her from following through on that dream. She enrolled at Stanford in 2002 as an electrical and chemical engineering major. As a freshman, she was named a President's Scholar and awarded a stipend of $3,000 to pursue a research project of her choice. She first developed a wearable patch that would be able to deliver a drug as well as monitor the patient's blood and adjust the dosage. A cell phone chip could be embedded in the patch that could communicate results to a doctor or lab. She filed a patent application for this, but soon realized she had a bigger idea. 


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2. The birth of Theranos

In the fall of 2003 Holmes decided to use her tuition money to found Theranos. Holmes promised her new blood test method could administer a variety of very specialized tests and screenings using a tiny blood prick that could be performed at your local Walgreens. The results would be ready almost instantly. With one nearly undetectable pin-prick to a patient's finger they would find out if said patient was anemic, pregnant, HIV negative, or have low thyroid function just 10 minutes later. This ability was seen as a revolutionary because up to that point, the prevailing system involved patients visiting a blood lab where a vial of blood would be drawn with a needle and results wouldn't be known for days. A semester later, Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford to pursue Theranos full time. She was 19 at the time.


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3. The inaccuracies

Holmes amassed an all-star team of advisors for Theranos including fomer Secretary of State George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, Henry Kissinger, former Senator Sam Nunn, former Senator and surgeong Bill Frist and other high powers names. But there were rumblings of trouble. Was Theranos all flash and no substance? In the fall of 2015, Theranos ran into trouble when it was revealed that the company was exaggerating the results of their technology. Several former patients who've used Theranos tests in Walgreens Wellness Centers received very inaccurate results. This made the company the subject of a criminal investigation. Theranos was accused of putting 81 people in danger by failing to disclose a problem with a specific hematology test. Theranos was forced to void two years worth of blood test results.


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4. The WSJ article and the fallout

On October 14, 2015 a scathing report by John Carreyou in The Wall Street Journal alleged that Holmes and Theranos were basically a sham. The article claimed that the much celebrated blood testing technology didn't work, and that most of the tests Theranos did were by traditional methods of blood testing. Carreyrou, the author of the WSJ piece, had read an article on Holmes in The New Yorker and was intrigued by Holmes' infamous secrecy. The level of secrecy Holmes enforced is to be expected at a tech startup, not at a medical startup. He also noted how Holmes could not actually explain the nuts and bolts of how her blood testing method worked. So, after he read the article, he began digging. Not long after, Holmes was thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Walgreens ended their relationship with Theranos and closed all of the Wellness Centers. The FDA banned Theranos from testing via its pinprick method; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services banned Holmes  from owning or running a medical laboratory for two years. Civil and criminal investigations were initiated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. Class action fraud lawsuits were formed. Funding for Theranos dried up. 

Holmes reached a settlement with the SEC in March 2018 and agreed to pay of fine of $500,000, among other penalties. In May 2018, Holmes was charged with several counts of fraud for misleading investors, consumers, and government offficials about Theranos' technology. She is awating criminal trial and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.


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5. The deep voice

It has been alleged that Elizabeth Holmes purposefully made her voice deeper to appear more authoritative. A number of former Theranos employees spoke to ABC News and said they thought she purposely changed her voice, adding that she would sometimes slip up and speak in a higher pitch, especially when she'd been drinking. "It was maybe at one of the company parties, and maybe she had too much to drink or what not, but she fell out of character and exposed that that was not necessarily her true voice. Maybe she needed to be more convincing to project a persona within a room among male venture capitalists. I'm not really quite sure," former Theranos employee Ana Arriola said.


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Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.