Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes believed in herself so much that she texted Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani saying that she “had complete confidence in myself for being the best business person of the year”.
The message to her then-boyfriend and Theranos President Balwani is one of the thousands of private texts and Skype messages CNBC received showing that Holmes had no confidence in herself and Theranos, the blood testing company she founded. They also reveal that Holmes told Balwani that he was courting high-profile investors who eventually gave Theranos hundreds of millions of dollars.
“My new life from tonight and forever more: – total confidence in myself best business person of the year – focus – details about excellence – don’t give what anyone thinks – involve employees in meetings by making stories about them (ie prepare well), “wrote Holmes Balwani in November 2014 when speaking about the full moon that evening.
Ten minutes later, Holmes texted again: “No answer?” Balwani replied, “Great. You listen and admit …”
In the same month Holmes Balwani texted: “Calls just ended. Alice Walton for 50. Confirmed 100 Greg. “It apparently refers to Alice Walton of Walmart. Greg’s identity is not clear. The Walton family ultimately invested a total of $ 150 million in Theranos in 2014.
Balwani replied, “Great. I was thinking today. You are not investing in our company, you are investing in our destiny.” This turned out to be an ominous prediction as Theranos closed in 2018 and the two are now being accused of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar program to mislead investors and patients about Theranos.
Holmes and Balwani have each faced 10 wire transfer fraud cases and two cases of conspiracy to commit wire transfer fraud. Both have pleaded not guilty. Holmes’ trial began last month. Balwani faces a separate process next year.
A few minutes later, Holmes wrote in the same string of text to Balwani: “Rupert over 100”, referring to the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is one of the high-profile investors in Theranos. Murdoch invested $ 125 million in the company.
“I can’t wait to find out more about the conversation with Rupert,” wrote Balwani in response. “Very good :)”, said Holmes and added: “He would have met longer.”
CNBC reached out to Walton and Murdoch. They didn’t respond. Some of the Theranos investors are expected to testify in the process.
The nearly 600-page private messages stretch from June 2011 to July 2016. The texts also show details of the high-flying lifestyle that Holmes and Balwani led while Theranos was bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars to death, according to financial reports.
In March 2015, Holmes Balwani wrote: “Mary Meeker is trying to convince me to stay private, collect massive $$$ and think bigger.”
Meeker is a well-known venture capitalist and partner at Bond Capital. She is known in the tech industry for her annual Internet Trends Report, a dozen-slide presentation of the hottest trends for investors. Meeker did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
In an April 2015 group text, Holmes’ brother Christian sent her and Balwani a message about an upcoming trip to Las Vegas: “Not sure if these are options, but from Dan: Presidential Suite Four Seasons $ 3,000, Mandarin Apex Suite View of Strip $ 3,400 or Presidential $ 15,000 or Adding $ 700 Junior Suite with Golf Course View. “
According to a source who worked at Theranos and knew about the trip, the group was planning a weekend getaway. The employee remembered an incredibly difficult time in the company with top-class departures, including the sudden departure of laboratory manager Adam Rosendorff. It is unclear whether Theranos paid for the trip.
“People just disappeared and they left without work, it was clear that the company was coming to a standstill,” said the former Theranos employee. “That’s a huge red flag.”
In a series of text messages also dated April 2015, Balwani appears to acknowledge the ill-timed trip. He texted Holmes: “The Vegas trip is such a distraction. Bad timing. But the guys bought everything that is non-refundable. So we will do it. But then I don’t want any distractions until we win. “
“Then we concentrate on it in our room, make dinner and go back early,” replied Holmes. “I never like distractions.”
Holmes followed up with another text to Balwani about high-end reservations: “Dinner can try the three-star Michelin French in mgm – just try all of the top-rated nationwide and see what we get.” She wrote.
In another exchange, Balwani said, “I got a table for the XS dance [floor]. ”And a few minutes later Balwani said to Holmes,“ Get yourself private security. ”“ Private security? ”Replied Holmes. “A dedicated security guard is with us all night,” said Balwani.
Problems in Theranos were first exposed in October 2015 by then Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou. The text messages received from CNBC show discussions about Carreyrou between Balwani and Holmes.
Carreyrou had tried to interview both Holmes and Balwani, but neither agreed. Balwani wrote that he “did not need to meet someone who attacked me”.
Balwani’s attorney Jeffrey Coopersmith declined to comment. Holmes’ attorneys did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.