Entertainment And News

Who Is Sunny Balwani? New Details About The Theranos President (And Elizabeth Holmes' Boyfriend) From The Netlfix Documentary

Photo: Getty Images
Who Is Sunny Balwani? New Details About The Theranos President From The Elizabeth Holmes Documentary

Elizabeth Holmes — the controversial founder and CEO of blood-testing startup Theranos — is being charged for allegedly making misleading claims about being able to test "a single drop of blood" for multiple diseases. The idea that was once going to revolutionize the medical industry is now going to land the 35-year-old disgraced CEO in jail. 

Holmes and her alleged scam are the center of the new HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. Her story and her crimes have been turned into a book, a podcast and soon a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

While Holmes and her ex-boyfriend/former Theranos president Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani are facing two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud, people are wanting to know more about both their working and personal relationship. 

So who is Sunny Balwani? Here's everything you need to know about Elizabeth Holmes' ex-boyfriend and the former president of Theranos. 

RELATED: Who Is Elaine Welteroth? New Details On The Judge Of 'Project Runway'

1. He was born in Pakistan.

Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani was born in 1965 in Pakistan. Being in a Hindu family, it was difficult for the Balwanis to live in Pakistan, so they moved to India and then the United States.

Still, Balwani never forgot where he came from. He attended the University of Texas in Austin in 1986 and was a member of the Pakistani Students Association. After he received his degree in information systems, he helped created a software development company in 1998 called CommerceBid.com

That company was bought by another software development company and Balwani cashed out his shares at $40 million right before it went out of business. From there, he went back to school at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a Master of Business Administration in 2003. He also studied computer science at Stanford but dropped out in 2008.

Berkley is where he met Elizabeth Holmes.

2. He met Elizabeth when she was in high school. 

Balwani, who is 53, met Elizabeth Holmes while he was enrolled at Berkeley and she was in her senior year of high school. At the time, he was 37 and she was 18. 

They were both on a trip to Beijing for Stanford's Summer Mandarin Course cohort. After Holmes graduated high school, she enrolled in Stanford to pursue a degree in chemical engineering but dropped out to focus on Theranos.

3. He was the president and COO of Theranos. 

And Balwani soon followed suit. In 2009, he joined Theranos as the president and chief operating officer, running the day-to-day operations — even though he had zero training in biological sciences and medical devices. 

So when the Edison machine — the one that was supposed to be able to test for thousands of diseases from a single drop of blood — was not working the way it was supposed to, he probably wasn't the best guy to have in charge. 

"This invention [the Edison blood testing device] is going to be way up there, um, with-- with the discovery of antibiotics," he was once quoted saying. He even went so far as to making up a word he had misheard ("Endofactor," which was originally an "end effector," which was a part of the robot's arm) and using it repeatedly throughout a meeting. 

RELATED: Who Is Tyler Shultz? New Details About The Whistleblower From The Elizabeth Holmes Theranos Documentary

4. He and Elizabeth dated. 

While working at Theranos, Balwani and Holmes dated. They reportedly kept their relationship a secret from everyone at the company, including board members.

According to the book about the scandal, Bad Blood, Balwani and Holmes were only platonic friends at first, seeing as how at the time he was not only 19 years old than her but was also married to Japanese artist Keiko Fujimoto. They divorced in 2002, and Balwani and Holmes moved into together in 2005.

While they may have thought they were being sneaky, former Theranos employees said in the documentary that the relationship was obvious. 

In 2014, he spoke about the first time he met Holmes.

“Elizabeth has had a very clear vision of where she wanted to take [Theranos] since the time I met her,” Balwani told Fortune.

5. He did not have the best reputation as a boss.

John Carreyrou, who wrote the book and the first story that ultimately brought Theranos down, said that he quickly learned Balwani had a prominent role in the company.

“In that first phone call, which was an hour long, [my source] made very clear to me that they were running this thing as a partnership, and that Sunny was kind of the enforcer and Holmes’s older boyfriend,” Carreyrou said. “He painted the portrait of this fraud being run by a couple.”

Carreyrou also discovered that Balwani was "terrorizing everyone" by watching security footage to see how long employees had been working. The documentary revealed a clip of him leading the employees in a "F- you chant," supposedly aimed at their competitors and enemies. 

RELATED: Who Is Kristin Grannis? New Details About Jamie Foxx's Ex

Emily Blackwood is a writer and editor living in California. She covers all things news, pop culture and true crime.