Theranos, one of the glory stories of medical tech innovation, is looking like a fairy tale these days. Forbes now says the company is worth a mere $800 million after estimating it at $9 billion just last year. Theranos is privately held, which makes its value difficult to measure — but this is a drop of epic proportions. Sinking along with the company’s valuation is the net worth of its founder and chief impresario, Elizabeth Holmes. Forbes named her the No. 1 richest self-made woman in America last year, with a reported net worth of $4.5 billion. Now Forbes says she’s worth zilch, zero, nada. A Wall Street Journal report says Theranos faces unhappy partnerships, a criminal probe, potential lawsuits and a growing list of other problems.
Is there a reason to trust Forbes’ $800 million valuation, given the track record? In 2015, Forbes pegged rapper 50 Cent’s net worth at $155 million two months before he filed for bankruptcy over a $5 million debt. Even when a company is publicly traded, it’s difficult to see inside its machinations sometimes. Not long before Enron failed, Fortune ranked it as the 7th most valuable company in America.