SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – A former Theranos lab director testified Friday that he thought the blood testing startup would be the next Apple until he realized that top executives were over the company’s finances and public image the health of the patients.
Adam Rosendorff, who worked at Theranos from 2013 to the end of 2014, told a jury that one of the reasons he resigned was because then-CEO Elizabeth Holmes and her top lieutenants urged him to “vouch for tests that I don’t trust gave “.
Rosendorff is a witness for the prosecution in the Holmes criminal trial. Holmes and former Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani have both pleaded guilty to a dozen wire fraud and conspiracy charges after the collapse of the company, which was valued at $ 9 billion as of 2015. Balwani will be tried separately.
Rosendorff said he found Theranos through a job posting on LinkedIn. He was interviewed by Holmes, Balwani and Daniel Young, the Vice President.
“I thought the idea of doing laboratory tests with a very small sample of fingers was really good,” said Rosendorff. “I thought it was going to be the next Apple,” he said.
Former Theranos President and COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani leaves after a hearing in a federal court in San Jose, California on July 17, 2019.
Stephen Lam | Reuters
That optimism quickly faded. Rosendorff testified that he saw inaccurate and unreliable test results after a few months, adding that doctors and patients were increasingly concerned.
“I think the company was more about PR and fundraising than patient care,” he said.
In an August 2013 email to Holmes, Rosendorff stated that the blood test device was not yet ready for launch in Walgreens stores. He also pointed out issues related to training and staff in the laboratory.
“I found it very important for Elizabeth to be aware of these issues as the company’s CEO,” he said.
After the email, Rosendorff met with Holmes to ask her to postpone the Walgreens launch. He remembered Holmes posting a piece of paper on her office window that counted down the number of days until the testing centers in the pharmacy branches were up and running.
Rosendorff said it seems like the board and investors “became dissatisfied with Theranos,” and Holmes rushed the deal to appease them.
“She was very nervous, she wasn’t her usual relaxed self,” said Rosendorff. “She was shaking a little, her voice cracked, she was clearly upset.”
He said he reached out to Holmes because he believed it would have “greater implications” than addressing Balwani, who often denied and redirected his concerns.
Rosendorff said that Holmes told him, instead of delaying the launch, they could use conventional laboratory equipment at Walgreens and not rely on Theranos’ technology.
Prosecutors relied on a number of eyewitnesses in their efforts to convince the jury of Holmes’ criminal conduct. Retired General James Mattis, who served on Theranos’ board of directors for three years, previously testified that he felt blind when he discovered the technology wasn’t working.
Rosendorff’s testimony will be continued next week.
SEE: Former Defense Sec. Mattis testifies against Elizabeth Holmes