Former Theranos employees still shaken as Elizabeth Holmes tests trial

Former Theranos employees still shaken as Elizabeth Holmes tests trial

He was the father of newborn twins who wanted to make a difference in healthcare.

Now, with Elizabeth Holmes’ criminal fraud trial starting on Tuesday, Micah Nice has had enough of “shutting up” and breaking her silence.

Nice is one of four former Theranos employees who were interviewed by CNBC ahead of Holmes’ trial. Others, who did not wish their names to be used, say they still fear retaliation from Holmes and former Theranos chairman Sunny Balwani.

“The fear is real,” Nice said. “Even after many years. The atmosphere was so toxic that you must have heard stories of disappearances. There was always that fear of retaliation and later you take it with you.

Holmes and Balwani have pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. Balwani’s trial will not take place until next year. Lawyers for Holmes and Balwani did not return a request for comment.

According to an acceptance letter shared with CNBC, Nice was hired in March 2015 for $ 185,000 per year at Theranos as the senior manager of customer service and call center operations at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, in California. was the manager. Theranos recruited him from another health care company in San Diego at the age of 41.

He reported directly to Balwani, whom he called the “Manipulative King”. His job was to solve problems, but he said he quickly realized that the real problem was Theranos himself.

“There was always something fishy or strange going on,” Nice said. “It was pretty clear that they were trying to hide something. Every morning I would wake up and wonder what they were going to spend time with today, while I was trying to figure out my exit strategy.

Another employee who worked at Theranos, who had left the company, asked not to be named for fear of retaliation from Holmes and Balvani after it became clear that he was called the ‘House of Cards’.

Reflecting on the upcoming trial, which has been repeatedly delayed, the former employee said she was “sad to see such an epic failure of due diligence on the part of so many people, but it’s also very predictable.” “

When asked what she would say to Holmes today, she replied, “You are not dealing with someone who behaves in reality. So the point of having a conversation in front of someone who doesn’t care about things seems to weaken. See how they want the world to be.

All of the former employees interviewed by CNBC said they left the company disappointed and upset by what had happened, but did not want their careers to be defined by this test. They each approached Theranos from different perspectives, but in retrospect they say they have pretty clear ideas about what was going on within the company.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them turned into ‘War of the Roses,'” said Nees, referring to the 1989 film where a married couple fights over an unpleasant divorce. “She’s become more desperate about the money and has a life to look forward to now that she’s trying to rebuild herself. The recipe is for a blame game.

It is not known if Holmes will take a stand in his defense. Former employees have said damage control is routine at Theranos and all agree Holmes is understandably optimistic.

“It was good,” Nice said. “We will have bad news and the next day she will be holding a town hall and everyone’s eyes will twinkle. She is so charismatic in the sense that she knows how to talk to people.

And that charisma was displayed publicly on CNBC’s “Mad Money” in 2015. A day after the Wall Street Journal ran an explosive report about Theranos blood testing technology not working as advertised, Holmes appeared at the event for defend his business.

“This is what happens when you work to make a difference,” Holmes told host Jim Cramer. “First they think you’re crazy, then they fight you, then you change the world. “

Nice, who left Theranos after barely a year, remains in contact with some of his former allies. He says they “just want to put it in the rearview mirror. Hopefully they find him guilty, and so does Sunny, and we’ll all move on. But many of us doubt that will happen because it’s in there. Part of the elite group.

Another high-level employee, who asked not to be named because she might be called to testify as a witness, said she thought “it took a long time, we really hope.” If it would happen soon. Most of us who work there are eager to make ends meet.

And a former Theranos executive close to Holmes told CNBC: “It didn’t have to end that way. She could choose any number of exit ramps and change the course of the company. But as in the film Speed, she will never take her foot off the accelerator pedal.

The long-awaited trial, which will be one of the most followed financial fraud cases in recent history, brings back a wave of emotions for those who also believed they could make a difference.

“There’s definitely an unspoken connection between all of us, we’ve been through it together,” said Neiss. “For those of us who left Theranos before it all fell apart, we are now on the other side with good careers. It’s good to talk about it. “

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