|Headquarters||Palo Alto, California, United States|
|Key people||Elizabeth Holmes, Chairman, CEO and Founder, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, President and COO, George P. Shultz, Board Member, William J. Perry, Board Member, Samuel Nunn, Board Member, Henry A. Kissinger, Board Member, Richard Kovacevich, Board Member, Gary Roughead, Board Member, James N. Mattis, Board Member|
Theranos is a privately held health technology and medical laboratory services company based in Palo Alto, California that provides blood tests. The company's blood testing platform uses a few drops of blood obtained via a fingerstick rather than vials of blood obtained via traditional venipuncture, using microfluidics technology.
Theranos was founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes with the goal of streamlining and standardizing blood tests by creating a handheld device. Holmes, then a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering at Stanford University, left the university early, at age 19, to start the company with a bridge loan from a venture capitalist. Before leaving Stanford, Holmes had founded a software company and worked on a protein microarray for the detection of SARS in Singapore. Holmes' Stanford professor Channing Robertson encouraged her to start the company and was a director.
The company has been secretive about its plans and operations in order to maintain confidentiality - “operating deeply in ‘stealth mode’” - and has rarely issued public statements or granted interviews to the media. In 2007, Theranos filed suit in court in Santa Clara accusing former employees of breaching company secrecy. Theranos filed suit in California against a former partner of McDermott Will & Emery for theft of intellectual property, but the case was dismissed in June 2012; another case against the law company in Washington, D.C. was also dismissed in August 2013. An exclusive interview with Holmes in the Wall Street Journal in September 2013 marked a shift to going more public.
The company raised $16 million in two rounds of initial fundraising, and $28.5 million in a third round in 2006. In 2010, Theranos raised an additional $45 million from a single unnamed investor, bringing its total funding to more than $70 million. Investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, ATA Ventures, Tako Ventures, Continental Properties Inc., and Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.
In 2006, Holmes was named one of Inc. magazine's "30 under 30" for her work with Theranos. In 2012, the Palo Alto-based company moved its headquarters into a building previously occupied by Facebook to accommodate rapid growth, and opened a second site for manufacturing operations in Newark, California, in 220,000 sq ft offices owned by BioMed Realty Trust. The company was noted as an example of disruptive technology in 2013 by Bill Frist, and as one of the 10 Top Medical and Technological Innovations of 2013 by Heathline. In 2013 the board was renewed; directors who left the board included Robertson, Robert B. Shapiro, and Pete Thomas of investor ATA Ventures. Several board members with diplomatic and military backgrounds were recruited, including Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn, Gary Roughead, and James Mattis. Other board members are Dick Kovacevich and several members of the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
Theranos uses a fingerstick to draw a micro sample of blood into a cartridge, which is loaded into a local reader for analysis. The results are sent wirelessly from the reader to a secure database. The company says that the results are received faster than the usual three-day delay for centralised laboratory testing, up to 30 blood tests can be performed on a single blood sample, and its method ensures accuracy by eliminating or reducing most human handling and delays associated with traditional blood tests. Theranos initially targeted its blood testing services at clinical trials for new drugs, because frequent testing can provide early indication of whether a drug therapy is working or causing adverse reactions.
Theranos began to offer services directly to consumers via Theranos Wellness Centers located inside Walgreens stores in 2013. Theranos offers blood testing services in pharmacies in California and Arizona. Theranos' blood tests mainly cost under $10, e.g. blood cholesterol at $2.99; the company claims low-cost blood tests could save US Medicare and Medicaid around $200 billion a decade. Theranos holds more than 10 patents, including patents on wearable blood monitors and influenza virus detection.
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