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Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos. Photo: Adam Jeffery / CNBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of blood testing company Theranos, was charged with "massive fraud" on Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also charged was the company itself, and former Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.

Why it matters: Theranos and Holmes rocketed from obscurity to Silicon Valley stardom seemingly overnight, based on claims that its technology could conduct comprehensive blood tests from tiny samples. It even obtained a $9 billion valuation from private investors, before a series of Wall Street Journal stories asserted that Theranos wasn't all it claimed to be.

The SEC alleges that Theranos raised over $700 million "from investors through an elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance." 

Holmes and Theranos have agreed to resolve the charges, via an agreement that would result in Holmes reducing her equity position and no longer maintaining company control. Holmes also will pay a $500,000 fine and be barred from serving as a director or officer at any publicly-traded company for the next decade.

There have not yet been any corresponding criminal charges against Holmes or Balwani, but the WSJ reports that the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco is investigating.

  • Among those affiliated with Theranos was current U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who sat on the company's board and advocated for using Theranos products on the battlefield.
  • Also on the board at one point were former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, plus former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
  • Company investors included Rupert Murdoch, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, members of Wal-Mart's founding family, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and an investment affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  • It also signed a large partnership with Walgreens that later collapsed amid the fraud allegations.

WSJ reporter John Carreyrou will release a book later this year on Theranos, which has been optioned for the big-screen, where Holmes would be portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence. Production on the film has not yet begun.

Flashbacks:

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

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This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

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  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
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Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."