Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ worth was estimated to be at $4.5 billion just last year. Now, it is “nothing,” according to Forbes.
From being crowned by Forbes at that time as America’s richest self-made woman, Theranos now has zero net worth, which the magazine said it completely based on her 50 percent stake in her embattled blood-testing startup Theranos.
Forbes has also removed Holmes from its wealth lists at the moment.
Here’s how the new estimate came to be. The shares of Theranos, the blood-testing company Holmes founded in 2003 and which had a grand plan of revolutionizing diagnostic testing in the country, are not traded on stock markets. In 2014, private entities bought stakes at a certain price implying a $9 billion company valuation.
However, Theranos began to be hounded by allegations of inaccurate tests and different probes of U.S. federal bodies. In mid-May, its president and chief operating officer Sunny Balwani, Holmes’ long-time confidant, retired alongside the company shuffling its leadership.
The allegations, coupled with new information on the firm’s annual revenues already at no more than $100 million, resulted in Forbes producing a lower estimate of the CEO’s value.
According to venture capitalists and industry analysts, Theranos could be more realistically valued at $800 million instead of $9 billion, giving Theranos credit for intellectual property as well as the $724 million it has managed to raise. The amount also includes “a generous multiple” of its sales, which Forbes picked up from an insider.
“At such a low valuation, Holmes’ stake is essentially worth nothing,” explained Forbes, adding that investors – who have preferred shares – will therefore get paid back before the CEO, who owns common stock.
Venture capital researcher VC Experts reminded that investors have a specific type of preferred equity dubbed participating preferred shares, which supersede common stock in the case of liquidation.
Liquidation, however, has not yet been discussed or heard of in the case of the ailing company. In that event, participating preferred investors would get their funds back before Holmes receives anything.
Back in 2003, Holmes promised Theranos would be a game changer in diagnostics through finger prick tests, which were promoted as instrumental in the diagnosis of different conditions using only a few drops of blood.
Concerns that prompted investigations include Theranos' failure to meet quality control standards: freezers not kept at required temperatures, missing documental signatures and unqualified personnel, to cite a few.
Meanwhile, Diane Hendricks, the co-founder and chair of ABC Supply, topped this year’s America’s Self-Made Women list with a net worth of $4.9 billion. The 69-year-old roofing magnate based in Afton, Wisconsin, occupied the second place in 2015.