Wasn't long ago that Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was the Cinderella of modern business. A fully-realized genius and media darling with a head for science and finance. She dressed and sounded like a lady Steve Jobs, ready to make trillions by changing the world.
In fact, those Robin Leach's over at Forbes even quantified how rich and powerful Holmes had become:
Last year, Elizabeth Holmes topped the FORBES list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women with a net worth of $4.5 billion.
But a lot has happened in a year. Theranos is now viewed less as a revolutionary biotech titan in the making than one of the greatest grifts in the history of American finance. Holmes' Q-rating has plummeted like a lead Zeppelin and everyone is wondering if she is a liar or someone who just got a little bit out over her skis flying down career mountain.
Even Forbes is re-thinking how much she's worth, and the drop is "significant..."
Today, FORBES is lowering our estimate of her net worth to nothing.
Our estimate of Holmes’ wealth is based entirely on her 50% stake in Theranos, the blood-testing company she founded in 2003 with plans of revolutionizing the diagnostic test market. Theranos shares are not traded on any stock market; private investors purchased stakes in 2014 at a price that implied a $9 billion valuation for the company.
After conversations with VCs, Forbes reports that it can fairly value Theranos at about $800 million, with almost the entire total coming from the venture capital raised by Holmes and her team. That massive loss has hit Holmes pretty hard Forbes says.
At such a low valuation, Holmes’ stake is essentially worth nothing. Theranos investors own preferred shares, which means they get paid back before Holmes, who owns common stock. According to VC Experts, investors in Theranos own a particular kind of preferred equity, called participating preferred shares, which take precedence to common stock in the event of a liquidation. FORBES is not aware of any plans to liquidate. If that were to happen, participating preferred investors would get their money back and more before Holmes gets a cent.
A year is a long time.