Elizabeth Holmes is guilty, but the Theranos saga is far from over

Elizabeth Holmes’ trial is finally over, but that does not mean her time in the spotlight is over. After months of quarreling and seven days of deliberations, jurors convicted the former Theranos boss of four out of 11 cases of conspiracy and fraud. Now, while Holmes awaits his final verdict, Hollywood is producing its own versions of the former CEO’s story.

Some say the Holmes case represents a charge against Silicon Valley’s “fake it till you make it” approach, and in fact criminal cases – let alone guilty verdicts – against tech executives are a rare occurrence. However, upcoming productions from Hulu and Apple may soon deliver the right accounts. These dramatic retellings of Therano’s saga could define how the world is going to understand the Holmes and Silicon Valley culture that gave rise to her.

On the legal front, Holmes’ fate is not yet sealed. The jury found the 37-year-old former CEO guilty of one case of conspiracy to defraud investors and three cases of wire fraud. But while the jurors did not find Holmes guilty on one charge of conspiracy to defraud patients and three cases of wire fraud related to patients, they remained locked in three other frauds related to misleading investors. President Judge Edward Davila plans to declare a trial for these unsolved charges.

Federal prosecutors will also have to decide whether to pursue a new trial for these three unresolved charges, and the defense is likely to appeal the guilty verdicts. Holmes risks fines of up to $ 250,000 for each case (plus restitution) and a maximum of 20 years in prison. It will probably take months for the judge to rule on Holmes’ verdict, and there is no mandatory minimum sentence. So it is possible that Holmes will not go to jail at all.

But inevitably Holmes will face the court of public opinion.

While the technology industry continues its years-long effort to treat Holmes like an aberration, the entertainment industry has just begun. The projects from Hulu and Apple – Amanda Seyfried and Jennifer Lawrence, respectively, will play Holmes – plans to hold a referendum on what went wrong at Theranos, and stand to shape how the public remembers Holmes and her company in ways her camera-free probation could never.

The story of Elizabeth Holmes goes to Hollywood

Silicon Valley rejected Elizabeth Holmes not long after the news came that Theranos technology was not working. Technology industry leaders then argued for years that the launch of blood tests did not follow their approach. They pointed out that Theranos was largely funded by private investors, not large venture capital firms, and that the company did not include prominent biotech experts on the board.

This argument does not quite hold. Holmes received support from some prominent technology investors, including venture capitalist Don Lucas and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. Holmes, who often dressed in a uniform black turtleneck and embraced his status as a college dropout who became a founder, also welcomed comparison with Silicon Valley royalty, as did Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Even throughout the trial, Holmes ‘lawyers tried to defend Theranos’ misleading claims about its blood-testing technology as a pair for the course in the startup world.

“Holmes’ alleged fraud was indeed a symptom of much broader causes that promoted her actions, and she’s not alone,” Len Sherman, a business professor at Columbia and former Accenture senior partner, told Recode. “It happens to be the extreme case that came before the court, and which – hopefully – garners a lot of attention.”

Silicon Valley may be trying to draw attention away from the Theranos story, but Hollywood is focusing on that. Since the Wall Street Journal first sounded the alarm about the accuracy of the company’s blood tests in 2015, several documentaries have examined what went wrong on Theranos. These include the Alex Gibney-directed HBO documentary Inventor and ABC’s investigative podcast The apostasy.

Streaming series and feature films with big budgets are next. Hulu is releasing a new miniseries based on the ABC podcast in March – it’s also called The apostasy – and has already published pictures of Seyfried as Holmes. And although it has not announced a release date, Apple recently confirmed that it will support and distribute a Theranos movie directed by Adam McKay and starring Jennifer Lawrence. It is called Bad bloodand is based on the eponymous book by John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal’s investigative reporter who first reported on Theranos’ defective technology.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom at Elizabeth Holmes’ trial, meaning these documentaries, TV series and movies will continue to be the primary way people watch (instead of read about) Theranos. But these treatments will also be a chance for the public to decide what they think of Holmes and her company, according to Dan Birman, a documentary director and professor at the University of Southern California.

“When we get into a big story like this, it’s a constant sorting process that will happen over time,” Birman said. “That’s what history does.”

Theranos is not the only disgraced technology company to get the streaming treatment. Next month, Showtime is releasing a series called Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, who plays Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Uber’s co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick. Apple is also working on a limited series called We went down about the rise and fall of WeWorks, starring Jared Leto as the company’s former CEO, Adam Neumann, and Anne Hathaway as his wife, Rebekah Neumann.

You could even say that taking pictures of Silicon Valley founders is becoming a bit of a Hollywood tradition. These projects follow in the footsteps of the 2010 blockbuster about the founding of Facebook, The social network, with Jesse Eisenberg playing a creepy Mark Zuckerberg. There were also two films about Steve Jobs: the 2015 drama written by Sorkin, starring Michael Fassbender as Apple’s founder, and the 2013 movie starring Ashton Kutcher. None of these films offer flattering depictions of the tech titans.

Meanwhile, there are even more Theranos courtroom scenes yet to be written. A separate lawsuit focusing on Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, Theranos ‘former chief technology officer and Holmes’ ex-girlfriend, is scheduled to begin on February 15. Balwani is also accused of having deceived patients and investors, but his case was separated from Holmes’s because her lawyers expected to charge him with abuse as part of her defense. His forthcoming case is a reminder that the story of Theranos never seems to end.

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