Here’s What Happened to the Theranos Headquarters
There’s a satisfying irony in a medical school replacing a company that grew briefly rich and famous for fraudulent medical devices
Theranos had a thing about circles. In early discussions about the company’s logo, founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was drawn to a pagan-era pattern of overlapping circles re-christened the “Flower of Life” by more recent New Age writers, journalist John Carreyrou explained in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. Circles appeared frequently in the company’s marketing materials; its logo highlighted the “o” in the company name.
So when the blood-testing company moved to a new corporate headquarters in late 2014 — back when Theranos was valued at $9 billion and no federal charges had been filed against any of its chief executives — South African architect Clive Wilkinson, who had been hired to redesign the interior, doubled down on the circle motif.
Desks fanned out from conference rooms in circular patterns. The floors were dotted with giant round brass meeting tables with embedded sinks. Arcing brass strips inlaid in the atrium’s marble floor formed the Flower of Life, a spiritual symbol that Theranos employees walked all over every day.
The circle-studded building at 1701 Page Mill Road in Palo Alto was a 116,000-square-foot behemoth whose size and prime location in Stanford Research Park underscored the company’s success. Rent was reportedly $1 million per month.
Theranos is gone, obviously, dissolved in 2018 after Carreyrou and whistleblowers revealed its signature technology to be a sham of impressive proportions. Holmes and former chief operating officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were indicted on federal wire fraud charges; her trial is scheduled to begin in August. A struggling Theranos vacated its Palo Alto headquarters in 2017 and spent its remaining months squeezed into its industrial laboratories across the bay in Newark, California.
But the building of the original headquarters remains, and the failed company’s specter evokes a different kind of circularity: the rise and fall of fortunes in a place built on the myth of inexorable forward progress.