Its really only in the past year that weve come to know and admire the worlds youngest female billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes. Herincredibly unusual business strategyhad her flying under the radar for more than a decade as she built her revolutionary blood-testing company, Theranos.
Now Holmes is ranked No. 1 on theSilicon Valley 100, Business Insiders list of the most prominent (and coolest) people in Silicon Valley.
Here are 21 surprising facts you may not have known about Americas coolest multibillionaire:
Ranked No. 110 on the Forbes 400 in 2014, Holmes topped the list ofAmericas Self-Made Womenin 2015 with a net worth of $4.7 billion.
Holmes was born in 1984. Considering her already incredible achievements, that in itself is surprising to many.
At just 9 years of age,Holmes wrotein a letter to her father, What I really want out of life is to discover something new, something that mankind didnt know was possible to do.
While still in high school, Holmes completed three college Mandarin courses and sold C compilers to Chinese universities.
Holmes went to Stanford for chemical engineering, and during her time there, filed her first patent (for an advanced drug-delivery patch). She then dropped out of college just before her sophomore year.
She once traveled to Singapore to spend a summer working in the Genome Institute labs on groundbreaking SARS research.
Holmes was exceedingly private in the first 11 years of building her company. Shes made a huge splash since appearing on thecover of
Her company name, Theranos, is a combination of the words
Since launching in 2003, Theranos has developed blood tests to help detect dozens of medical conditions, including high cholesterol and cancer, using just a drop or two of blood drawn from a pinprick in your finger.
Part of Holmess inspiration came from her aversion to needles; her mother and grandmother even fainted at the sight of needles.
Holmes assembled what can be described as anall-star boardof experienced and accomplished people in the corporate world: George Schultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, and Bill Frist, among others.
Holmes met Sunny Balwani, who would later become her companys COO, in Beijing the summer after her senior year of high school, during the time he was getting his MBA from Berkeley.
Holmes is often compared to visionary Steve Jobs and told
shelaunched her company after thinking about what is the greatest change I could make in the world.
Like Jobs, Holmes wears a daily uniform of a black suit with a black cotton turtleneck.
Holmes has set her sights on more than simply dominating the blood-testing market; she wants to create a whole new market called consumer health technology that will see consumers more engaged in their health care.
As of last year, Holmes had 84 patents to her name (18 U.S. and 66 non-U.S.).
According toCBS News, Holmes spends every waking hour in her office and doesnt even own a TV at home.
In March this year, Holmes became theyoungest person everhonored as a lifetime member by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
, Holmes can quote Jane Austen by heart, [but] no longer devotes time to novels or friends, doesnt date, doesnt own a television, and hasnt taken a vacation in 10 years … She is a vegan, and several times a day she drinks a pulverized concoction of cucumber, parsley, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and celery.
She abstains from caffeine, limits the amount of time she sleeps, and works seven days a week (Insights by Stanford Business).
Holmes is notoriously secretive, and while shes been criticized by industry peers as such, insists she must protect her technology from the prying eyes of competitors.
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