$4.5 billion is, by all accounts, a shit ton of money. You could buy billions of used, horrifically scratched Rob Schneider DVDs. You could cop all the Yeezy Season 2 footwear pieces. You could probably even buy yourself a country or two. These are all noble ways of spending unholy amounts of money. But what about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who Forbes estimated had a net worth of $4.5 billion just last year and is now reportedly worth nothing?
Holmes, who founded the blood-testing startup Theranos in 2003, topped Forbes' list of "America's Richest Self-Made Women" in 2015 with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion. Forbes, announcing their revision of Holmes' worth Wednesday, revealed their estimates were based purely on her 50 percent stake in the startup. But how though?
Last year's $4.5 billion net worth estimate stemmed from a $9 billion valuation of the company in 2014, a company that CBS MoneyWatch reported is now facing a lawsuit alleging consumer fraud and false advertising. According to the complaint, Theranos' tests—which allow blood to be tested with just a pinprick—were inaccurate:
"Theranos assured its customers that these tests were highly accurate, industry leading in quality, and developed and validated under, and compliant with, federal guidelines," the complaint states. "Thousands of people, including plaintiff M.P.B., believed the Company's representations and paid for Theranos's tests."
Theranos deemed the suit "without merit," adding that the company would "vigorously defend" itself against such claims. Forbes, speaking to experts in light of their fresh $0.00 estimate, have now concluded that a more realistic value of Theranos is about $800 million, i.e. not $9 billion. After intellectual property and sales are accounted for, that brings Holmes' stake to roughly, um, nothing.
Theranos, who did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment, issued a statement to TIME Wednesday saying the new estimate was "skewed" due to a lack of data:
As a privately held company, we declined to share confidential information with Forbes. As a result, the article was based exclusively on speculation and press reports.
Meanwhile, back in reality, more than 46 million Americans currently live in poverty.