Elizabeth Holmes accuses ex-lover, business partner of abuse
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Disgraced entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes described herself as the abused puppet of her former lover and business partner Sunny Balwani in tearful testimony Monday, part of her attempt to refute accusations that she lied about a flawed blood-testing technology she had hailed as a major breakthrough.
After recounting how she met Balwani while she was still in high school, Holmes said she eventually fell under his sway after she dropped out of Stanford University in 2003 to found Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup she led as CEO for the next 15 years.
A weeping Holmes, now 37, testified she was raped at Stanford — a factor she believes played a role in what she characterized as her later subservience to Balwani, now 56. The two became romantically involved in 2005 before Balwani became chief operating officer at Theranos, a position he held from 2009 to 2016.
Even before joining Theranos, Balwani was regularly berating Holmes as an inept executive who needed to “kill" her former self in an effort to become more disciplined and focused, according to her testimony and contemporaneous notes with strict instructions for Holmes handwritten by Balwani.
“He felt like I came across as a little girl and thought I needed to be more serious and more pointed," Holmes explained as she read through Balwani's demands. They included spending at least 30 minutes each morning writing out her daily goals and never spending more than five minutes meeting with anyone unless she had written down a reason justifying the additional time.
If she didn't do what Balwani said, Holmes said, he would yell and tell her he was “so disappointed in my mediocrity."
At other times, Holmes said, Balwani would liken her to a “monkey flying a space ship" and tried to cut her off from...