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5 Things To Know About Sunny Balwani, The Former Theranos Executive On Trial

Illustration of gloved hand holding vial of blood-shadow is scales of justice.

Former Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani’s fraud trial is coming to a close, months after founder Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of defrauding investors.

Balwani was the now-defunct company’s chief operating officer, and was charged along with Holmes with mischaracterizing the company’s blood testing technology’s efficacy and business performance, according to The New York Times. Balwani and Holmes both pleaded not guilty, but Holmes was convicted on four of the 11 charges.

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Now, Balwani’s trial is wrapping up. We looked at some key points about the former executive, who was born in Pakistan and received degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and the University of California, Berkeley.

1. He met Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes when she was 18 and he was 37. Balwani and Holmes met in 2002 while part of a language immersion program in China, The Wall Street Journal reported. Holmes started at Stanford University shortly after they met, per The Cut, and Balwani reportedly supported Holmes in her decision to drop out of the university to start the company that would become Theranos. It’s unclear when their relationship became romantic, but the couple lived together from 2005 to 2016. They even bought a house together in Atherton, California, for $9 million, according to the WSJ.

2. He made his money before the dot-com bubble burst. Balwani worked at companies including Lotus and Microsoft, per Crunchbase, but he really made his money elsewhere. He helped run, which was acquired for around $228 million in cash and stock in 1999. As part of the deal, Balwani received shares of the company, which he sold for more than $40 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

3. His relationship with Holmes was a secret, kind of. Balwani and Holmes reportedly kept their romantic relationship a secret from investors and employees. However, the relationship was more of an open secret to some employees, who noticed the pair—who lived together not far from the office—would often arrive and leave work together, according to employees interviewed in the HBO documentary “The Inventor.

4. He’s accused of abuse by Holmes. During Holmes’ trial, she accused Balwani of emotional, psychological and sexual abuse during their relationship, according to the WSJ. Balwani’s attorney denied the allegations of abuse.

5. He loaned Holmes $13 million in the early days of Theranos. Balwani was already wealthy when he met Holmes, and in 2009 he provided a $13 million personal loan for Theranos’ second round of funding, according to The Cut. He joined Theranos as its chief operating officer and president around six months later. That was despite not having any experience working in the health field. He later also invested in the company, which raised money from investors including Walgreens, Rupert Murdoch and Fortress Investment Group.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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