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Ever since The Dropout landed on Hulu, audiences have wanted to know more about Elizabeth Holmes’ boyfriend on the series, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. And of the many questions fans have, the status of Sunny Balwani’s net worth is one of the most widely speculated today—especially as it compares to Holmes’ own net worth.
We’re diving into everything there is to know about Sunny Balwani’s net worth below, but first, let’s get to know the real Balwani. Long before he became Holmes’ boyfriend and partner at Theranos, Balwani was born as the son of Sindhi parents living in Pakistan. After facing religious prejudice in the country, Balwani and his family moved to India, which is where he spent most of his childhood. They later came to the United States, where Balwani began to pursue his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin at the age of 21. He graduated with a focus on information systems and went on to work for companies like Lotus Software and Microsoft before launching his own company, CommerceBid, in 1998. The software development company was among the first to help businesses buy and sell items over the internet.
The following year, CommerceBid was purchased by another business development software company, allowing Balwani to join the board of the new company. By 2000, Balwani decided to sell his shares, walking away with $40 million before the company went out of business. But a series of business endeavors and missteps would eventually leave Sunny Balwani’s net worth looking pretty different. Keep on reading ahead for what we know about Sunny Balwani’s net worth today.
How did Elizabeth Holmes meet Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani?
After selling his shares of his company, Balwani went on to spend the next few years receiving a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Berkeley. It was during this time period that Balwani, who was 37 at the time, met Holmes, who was 18 and in her senior year of high school. The pair met for the first time in Beijing, China, on a language exchange program and stayed in touch as they went on to study at Stanford. Balwani pursued a graduate degree in computer science, while Holmes was studying for her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering. Within time, the pair struck up a romance.
While Balwani was still married to Japanese artist Keiko Fujimoto when he met Holmes, their relationship had already ended in divorce by the time Holmes moved in with him at his Palo Alto condo in 2005. As depicted in the events of Hulu’s The Dropout, Holmes dropped out of Stanford the previous year to focus full-time on Theranos, a startup that promised to revolutionize the medical blood-testing industry. As the success of Theranos took off, Balwani soon followed Holmes, dropping out of his graduate program in 2008.
How much did Sunny Balwani invest in Theranos?
After Holmes launched Theranos in 2003, the young entrepreneur was struggling to secure funding for the fledgling company—and her boyfriend stepped in to help. This exchange is shown in Hulu’s The Dropout, but how much did Sunny Balwani invest into Theranos in real life?
According to a court testimony obtained by ABC News’ “The Dropout” podcast, Balwani gave Holmes a $13 million personal loan to help fund her growing business. “The company was low on cash, and I knew of the mission and that what the company was trying to do was paramount and I offered to help the company and I ended up giving a $13 million personal loan,” Balwani said, per an excerpt shared by Esquire. “It was interest-free. It was a good-faith loan.” Six months later, Balwani had seemingly paid his way into becoming a Theranos executive.
When did Sunny Balwani start working at Theranos?
Holmes brought Balwani on to Theranos as an official employee in 2009. He was appointed to president and chief operating officer of Theranos, which saw him overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company. But there was only one problem—aside from the clear conflict of interest that came with dating the company’s founder, of course. Despite his business acumen, Balwani had no formal experience when it came to biomedical sciences or devices.
This quickly became an issue among the board, who grew concerned about the company’s lack of medical professionals. Theranos employees also took issue with Balwani’s practices. According to Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup—the 2018 book that served as the basis for ABC News’ “The Dropout” and the Hulu series of the same name—Balwani was regarded as deeply demanding, uncompromising and obsessive, often going so far as to prevent employees from speaking to each other at work. “When employees questioned the accuracy of the company’s blood-testing technology, it was Balwani who would chastise them in emails (or in person),” wrote Nick Bilton in a Vanity Fair investigative report, adding in part, “He ensured that scientists and engineers at Theranos did not talk to one another about their work.”
What was Sunny Balwani’s Theranos salary?
Before resigning from his position at Theranos in 2016, Sunny Balwani’s salary at the company was a reported $1, according to his attorney Jeffrey Coopersmith. While the former COO and president of Theranos also acquired $4.5 million of Theranos stock with his own money, his attorney insists this was purportedly to help to further support the business.
“All Mr. Balwani did was put his heart and soul, and millions of dollars of his own money, toward changing the face of healthcare by giving these people access to cost-effective blood tests so they could take charge of their own health and monitor changes for signs of the disease,” Balwani’s attorney said in a 2018 court filing. “Mr. Balwani believed so much in Theranos that over the years his own mother and other family members used the company’s lab to enable them to make informed decisions about important health care matters.”
But many of the companies, investors and patients connected to Theranos would suggest otherwise. In 2018, a federal grand jury indicted both Balwani and Holmes on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Holmes, for her part, was found guilty on multiple counts of fraud in January 2022, whereas Balwani began his trial in March 2022.
What is Sunny Balwani’s net worth?
So, what is Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani’s net worth today? Sunny Balwani’s net worth is estimated to be $85 million as of 2022, according to multiple net worth reports. However, this figure is likely to drop if he is convicted. By comparison, his Theranos partner and former girlfriend Elizabeth Holmes’ net worth went from a reported $4.5 billion to $0 following her trial verdict, according to Forbes. She currently faces up to 20 years in prison.
The Dropout is available to stream on Hulu. Here’s how to watch it for free.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
For more about Elizabeth Holmes, check out Wall Street Journal reporter John Careyrou’s 2018 book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. The book—which The New York Times described as “chilling” and said “reads like a thriller”—tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes, a health tech entrepreneur who was seen as the Steve Jobs, and her company, Theranos, startup that raised more than $9 billion in funding and promised to revolutionize the medical industry through single-drop blood tests. The national bestseller follows Holmes as she allegedly defrauded investors and put patients at risk with misdiagnoses and unnecessary treatments through her defective technology. The book also investigates how Holmes and her partner, Sunny Balwani, worked to silence anyone who voiced their criticism—including Theranos’ own employees.
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