Fans and followers of Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes can now take home an expensive original piece from the company.
On eBay, more than a dozen allegedly authentic products from the now defunct Silicon Valley company are being sold – and much like the company itself, are listed at inflated prices.
A set of five Theranos brand pens recently sold for $150. A bottle of water is currently listed at $1,500. For $11,000, you can buy an “authentic” (including “unworn”) Theranos gown.
Many of these products are typical of Silicon Valley companies, which are known to hand out branded pens, shirts and water bottles at conferences. But demand for those emblazoned with the “Theranos” logo has skyrocketed following the company’s dramatic downfall.
Holmes was found guilty in January of four of 11 fraud charges following a week-long trial recounting her role in the blood testing company.
The trial attracted massive attention, but months after the verdict was read, the hype has not waned. A Hulu TV series has garnered huge viewership, a movie is in the works, and the trial of Holmes co-conspirator Sunny Balwani is currently underway.
“We’re seeing a ton of interest after the Holmes trial, and I don’t think it’s going to go away,” said Aron Solomon, chief legal analyst for legal marketing firm Esquire Digital who has followed Theranos extensively.
The fascination with Holmes has created a micro-industry for new and vintage Theranos products. And former employees are cashing in.
John, a salesperson behind an account listing Theranos products, worked at the company from 2012 to 2018 and ended up with a handful of merchandise.
“I heard people were buying stuff online, so I listed some old clothes I had, kind of as a joke,” said John, who asked to be quoted under an alias because confidentiality issues. “But they sold for exorbitant sums.”
John worked in manufacturing and, like many at Theranos, was largely unaware of the problems with lab testing until it was too late. “We were pretty oblivious to what was going on,” he said.
He says he lost his job when the business collapsed. After months of trying to find a new job, he gave up and took early retirement. He made more than $1,200 reselling his old Theranos gear, but said it was small consolation.
“I had stock options, so it would have been a lot better for me if the company hadn’t lied and actually produced something,” he said.
Solomon, the analyst, said Theranos equipment prices were due more to the enduring fascination with Holmes itself than the former company.
“People were endlessly fascinated by her as a character,” he said. “It has become a cultural phenomenon, and that will never change.”
Indeed, Holmes’ co-conspirator and former romantic partner Balwani is currently facing a jury in the same courtroom where Holmes was tried. But the debates attracted a much smaller audience.
“That college dropout wearing a black turtleneck who managed to rip off Henry Kissinger — it became a cultural obsession,” Solomon said. “No one would ever collect Sunny Balwani merchandise.”