The Dropout podcast

The Dropout

ABC News

Money. Romance. Tragedy. Deception. The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is an unbelievable tale of ambition and fame gone terribly wrong. How did the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire lose it all in the blink of an eye? How did the woman once heralded as “the next Steve Jobs” find herself facing criminal charges — to which she pleaded not guilty — and up to decades in prison? How did her technology, meant to revolutionize health care, potentially put millions of patients at risk? And how did so many smart people get it so wrong along the way? ABC News chief business, technology and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, along with producers Taylor Dunn and Victoria Thompson, take listeners on a journey that includes a multi-year investigation. You'll hear exclusive interviews with former employees, investors, and patients, and for the first-time, the never-before-aired deposition testimony of Elizabeth Holmes, and those at the center of this story. Starting August 31, 2021, in a series of new episodes, "The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial" will take you inside the courtroom, breaking down the evidence and keeping score for both sides until 12 jurors decide the fate of the Theranos founder and new mother. Three years after she was first charged, we find out how this saga finally ends.

23 Episodes

  • The Dropout podcast

    Reframing the Narrative

    54:38

    This week, Elizabeth Holmes returns to the stand, presenting herself as a confident CEO with a noble mission who also naively took experts at their word. She meticulously details how she built her business -- even admitting to having doctored those pharmaceutical documents -- but implies over and over again that she relied on information given to her by scientists, doctors and board members to solidify her understanding of where her company stood. Will it be enough to convince a jury that she had no intent to defraud investors?
  • The Dropout podcast

    The Prosecution Rests & Elizabeth Speaks

    1:06:21

    In a monumental week in the trial of United States v. Elizabeth A. Holmes, the prosecution introduced its final week of witnesses before resting its case. Among them, a patient who received troubling results from a Theranos HIV test and a journalist whose damaging interviews with Elizabeth were played for the first time in court. And in a literal final-hour shocker, the defense called Elizabeth Holmes to the stand. Did the government bring its case home? Did Elizabeth begin to sway the jury?
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  • The Dropout podcast

    The Beginning of the End

    48:08

    In this episode, we hear from two Theranos lab directors -- one who never met Elizabeth or stepped foot into the company’s lab, another who ultimately voided more than 50,000 Theranos tests after a damning government inspection. And we hear from an irate investor who says Elizabeth Holmes cut off communication with him when he asked for basic information about the company. Plus, 10 weeks into the trial, with only 24 witnesses out of a possible 181 on the government’s initial list having taken the stand, we hear a surprising update from prosecutor Jeffrey Schenk: This week might be the prosecution’s last before it rests its case.
  • The Dropout podcast

    Patterns

    42:33

    Nine weeks into the criminal trial of Elizabeth Holmes, we’ve heard from dozens of witnesses -- Elizabeth’s colleagues, board members, investors, clients, scientists, accountants and corporate executives. It's impossible not to feel the repetition. We learn that a fake Pfizer memo wasn’t the only document Theranos falsified, and we’re introduced to a man with deep connections to many of the central players in Elizabeth’s orbit. Patterns in the prosecution’s questioning are beginning to become clear, and experts show us it’s all part of a greater plan.
  • The Dropout podcast

    The Investors

    46:34

    This week, we hear from high-profile companies and individuals who invested millions of dollars into Theranos, the prosecution reiterating that these investments were made on the basis of what they say was a pattern of misinformation, exaggeration and outright lies coming from Elizabeth Holmes herself. And we hear from a Pfizer scientist who speaks to the supposedly doctored Pfizer document that Theranos showed investors to help lure them in.
  • The Dropout podcast

    The Therabros

    40:52

    This week, we got a peek into how things at Theranos could at times be a full-on family affair. Elizabeth recruited her brother Christian to the company. He, in turn, recruited five of his Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers to join him. The group would come to be known as “The Therabros.” We hear from one Therabro who would rise to the rank of Elizabeth’s lead of strategic operations. He interacted with VIP investors, board members, military officials and business partners, and revealed to the court what the government says was a disturbing pattern of misinformation.
  • The Dropout podcast

    The Clients

    44:42

    Theranos’ biggest clients, Walgreens and Safeway, are on the stand this week, testifying to what exactly they say they were told before signing multimillion-dollar deals with the blood testing startup. In email exchanges, text messages and board presentations, the prosecution paints a picture of deception while the defense claims the industry giants should’ve known better. Plus, we hear from Sunny Balwani’s dermatologist of 15 years, who happened to also become Theranos’ lab director.
  • The Dropout podcast

    Crime and Punishment

    34:19

    This week, two jurors ask to be excused, citing stress around punishment and the responsibilities in deciding the future of Elizabeth Holmes. A young woman, with unusual ties to this case, gives her perspective as a trial observer, and a veteran Silicon Valley investor puts the Theranos saga in larger context.
  • The Dropout podcast

    Sounding the Alarm

    40:23

    This week, we hear some shocking insights from a former Theranos lab director who says he tried to stop the train before it ran off the tracks. From failing machines to a lack of proficiency testing, he tells of the pressure he felt to vouch for tests while maintaining his integrity as a lab director. And he describes how he says he tried to delay the Walgreens launch, pleading with a “nervous” Elizabeth, who went forward nonetheless. But does an aggressive and lengthy cross-examination undermine his claims?
  • The Dropout podcast

    The General and the Patient

    39:23

    This week, a high-profile witness from Elizabeth’s superstar board of directors surprises the courtroom by taking the stand: 4-star general and former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis. He speaks of being dazzled by the potential of Theranos’ devices on the battlefield and the disillusionment he felt when the full story came to light. Plus, we meet a patient whose Theranos test results led to a terrifying ordeal.

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