He May Not Be as Culpable as Elizabeth Holmes, but Sunny Balwani Is Still Pretty Damn Suspicious

POPSUGAR Entertainment | 3/22/2019 | Corinne Sullivan
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Just a few years ago, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was pronounced the youngest self-made female billionaire in America, but now, she is potentially facing 20 years in prison. Following the wild success of the recent pair of notable Fyre Festival docs, HBO recently released a documentary called The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley, and it may be even crazier than the story of Fyre Fest.

The documentary (which builds upon the book published last year by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup) tells the story of the brilliant Stanford dropout who founded Theranos. With her mission of performing blood tests using only small quantities of blood, Holmes received billions of dollars through fundraising efforts and investor enthusiasm — which would have been great if the technology actually existed. Once known for her trademark Steve Jobs-inspired black turtlenecks and revolutionary blood testing aspirations, Holmes is now better known for her decade of deception and her notably deep voice.

Fyre - Media - CEO - Billy - McFarland

However, just like Fyre Media's CEO Billy McFarland, Holmes didn't work alone. The now-35-year-old was assisted by former Theranos COO and president Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, who met Holmes when he was 37 and she was just 18. They were both in China studying at Beijing University as part of a Stanford program and, when Holmes launched Theranos at 19 and needed a second round of investments to help it continue to grow, Balwani provided a substantial loan to keep the company afloat. "The company was low on the cash, and I knew this mission, what the company was trying to do, was paramount," he said in his 2017 deposition to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Though he claimed it was a "good-faith loan," it probably helped that he was also Holmes's longtime lover.

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