A Billion Dollar Idea
Holmes dropped out of Stanford at 19 to found what would become Theranos after deciding that her tuition money could be better put to use by transforming healthcare.
Traditional blood testing is shockingly difficult and expensive for a tool that’s used so frequently. It also hasn’t changed since the 1960s.
It’s done in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Vials of blood have to be sent out and tested, which can take weeks using traditional methods, and is prone to human error. And of course, sticking a needle in someone’s arm scares some people enough that they avoid getting blood drawn, even when it could reveal life saving information.
Holmes recognized that process was ripe for disruption.
It took a decade for her idea to be ready for primetime, but now it seems that her decision to drop out was undoubtedly a good call. Last year, Walgreens announced that it will be installing Theranos Wellness Centers in pharmacies across the country, with locations already up and running in Phoenix and Palo Alto. And Holmes has raised $400 million in venture capital for Theranos, which is now valued at $9 billion (Holmes owns 50%).
The other two 30-year-olds that are just a little bit younger on Forbes’s List, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his former roommate, Facebook CEO Dustin Moskovitz, also have access to a wealth of information about people — but their data is less likely to save a life.