Forbes: Obama's Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship Now Worth Zero Dollars

Theranos founder and Clinton donor Elizabeth Holmes removed from Forbes wealth lists

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes / AP
June 1, 2016

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who in the past year was named one of President Obama’s Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship and was placed atop the Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, has had her estimated net worth lowered from $4.5 billion to zero.

Forbes announced on Wednesday that it was removing Holmes from all of its wealth lists following news that Theranos’ blood testing technology, once considered revolutionary, was actually a failure. Theranos announced last month that it had to void blood test results for thousands of patients taken over the course of two years because its Edison device, touted for its ability to function with tiny blood samples, was producing inaccurate results.

"Last year, Elizabeth Holmes topped the FORBES list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women with a net worth of $4.5 billion," wrote Matthew Herper, a senior editor for Forbes. "Today, FORBES is lowering our estimate of her net worth to nothing."

A series of reports last year from the Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou exposed the failure of the Edison device late last year. Carreyrou found that Theranos executives such as Holmes took measures to hide shortcomings during federally mandated proficiency tests.

Prior to the reports, Theranos was valued at $9 billion based on private investments made in 2014. Holmes was brought to the White House in 2015 and named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship by Obama.

The White House has not responded to multiple requests for comment about Holmes’ company since she was named ambassador.

A video celebrating Holmes’ work still exists on the official White House YouTube page.

The Forbes investigation into Theranos found that Holmes’ stake in the company "is essentially worth nothing."

"Theranos has been hit with allegations that its tests are inaccurate and is being investigated by an alphabet soup of federal agencies," wrote Herper. "That, plus new information indicating Theranos’ annual revenues are less than $100 million, has led FORBES to come up with a new, lower estimate of Theranos’ value."

Forbes estimates the current value of Theranos as $800 million. Even if it were to liquidate that amount, money would have to be returned to multiple preferred investors before Holmes received a cent, Forbes reported.

Holmes has been embraced by the Clintons as well as the White House.

Holmes was showcased onstage at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting last year during a lengthy discussion with Bill Clinton about her ability to bring "equality" to the health care sector.

The meeting occurred before Theranos was embroiled in controversy, but the relationship between Holmes and the Clintons has lasted.

Holmes was scheduled to host a $2,700-a-head fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in March at Theranos’ Palo Alto headquarters. The fundraiser was going to be attended by Chelsea Clinton.

The fundraiser was relocated from Theranos’ offices after the Clinton campaign was criticized for holding an event at the offices of a company under federal investigation. Holmes remained a host for the event, which was still attended by Chelsea Clinton.

"[The event] is not connected to a specific company or policy, but a chance to talk directly to women in tech," the Clinton campaign told CNBC. "We frequently send initial invitations while host committees are still being formed and locations finalized. This was never a health care event and the location wasn't set. It will not be at Theranos."

A health care adviser to the Clinton campaign was also an adviser to Theranos.