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Texts Expose Elizabeth Holmes' Romance With 'Tiger'

Theranos founder and Sunny Balwani met in 2002
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2021 2:54 PM CDT
Texts Expose Elizabeth Holmes' Workplace Romance
In this Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, file photo, Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, arrives at the federal courthouse for jury selection in her trial, in San Jose, Calif.   (AP Photo/Nic Coury, File)

(Newser) – The trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes involves a romance portion, with prosecutors diving into Holmes' longtime relationship with Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani. Holmes and Balwani, who himself faces fraud charges in a trial slated for early next year, met in a 2002 language-immersion session in China when they were 18 and 37, respectively. Their relationship began around 2003 and didn't begin unraveling until 2015; Balwani joined Theranos as president and COO in 2009. The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and the Guardian share some of the texts prosecutors presented in court.

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  • Holmes sometimes addressed Balwani as "tiger" and "my king." She wrote at one point, "You are the breeze in desert for me. My water. And ocean. Meant to be only together tiger." Balwani's reply: "OK."
  • In November 2014 Holmes texted, "My new life as of this night and forever more: - total confidence in myself best business person of the year – focus – details excellence – don't give what anyone thinks – engage employees in meetings by stories and making it about them (ie prepare well)." Ten minutes later she followed up with, "No response?" Balwani's reply: "Awesome. U r listening and paying attention..."
  • When talking about what they were building at Theranos, Holmes in December 2014 texted, "And for our kids never forget who we are." (The couple had no children; Holmes has since had a child with partner Billy Evans.)
  • Prosecutors presented texts from Balwani that were critical of the company, as when he referred to its lab as a "disaster zone" and chided Holmes for her many media appearances because Theranos didn't yet have "solid substance."
  • In June 2015 he also texted, "We are lazy and disorganized and not focused," in work but also "in the context of u and me." Her reply: "What makes you say lazy."
  • The next month, he wrote, "We need to commit to each other and get out of this hell so we can live in paradise." Her response: "I commit. Completely."
(It emerged in late August that Holmes might mount a mental-health defense in which she alleges she was emotionally and sexually abused by Balwani.)

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