Bad Blood

Bad Blood

Secrets and Lies in A Silicon Valley Startup

Book - 2018
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"The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of a multibillion-dollar startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end in the face of pressure and threats from the CEO and her lawyers. In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup "unicorn" promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes's worth at an estimated $4. 7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn't work. For years, Holmes had been misleading investors, FDA officials, and her own employees. When Carreyrou, working at The Wall Street Journal, got a tip from a former Theranos employee and started asking questions, both Carreyrou and the Journal were threatened with lawsuits. Undaunted, the newspaper ran the first of dozens of Theranos articles in late 2015. By early 2017, the company's value was zero and Holmes faced potential legal action from the government and her investors. Here is the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a disturbing cautionary tale set amid the bold promises and gold-rush frenzy of Silicon Valley"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781524731656
Branch Call Number: 338. 76817 CAR 2018-06
Characteristics: x, 339 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

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Jul 09, 2019

True story about the medical start-up, Theranos, and a great roadmap on what not to do, management-wise. The top 2 people in the company lacked positive business and management skills or a moral compass. They mis-represented the technology; lied to board members, investors, corporate partners, patients and federal regulatory agencies; they bullied, intimidated, ostracized, spied on and fired any employee who disagreed with them. But, they got caught and that is an equally engaging story. Theranos managment was extreme and egregious in their manner, but what struck me was that many of the poor management, bullying, and imitation situations were reminiscient of some experiences I had when I worked for the Johnson County Library.

Jul 06, 2019

In listening to "The Dropout", a podcast about the Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos scandal I was interested in learning even more. The podcast does an excellent job at telling what is essentially the same story that's told in this book but it's an interesting story, deserving of being heard and/or read twice. The fact that Elizabeth Holmes, the "college dropout", was able to win over Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, and James Mattis is compelling. George Schultz in particular, was taken in to such an extent that he believed her over his grandson, creating a family rift that continues at least into the closing chapters of this book. This is an interesting story and one which will become even mores when Ms. Holmes goes on trial in 2020. It'll be of great interest to see how well she spins that appearance.

Jun 21, 2019

Just finished the book and can highly recommend it - the writing is accessible and Carryrou does a good job of explaining normal business practices when needed to put Theranos practices in perspective.

I would have liked to see a greater exploration of why so many smart men, literally world leaders, were willing to serve on the board of a medical company without asking to see evidence of its claimed successes and without wondering why there were no medical or laboratory experts sitting among them. I don't think this suspension of disbelief is sufficiently explained by the fact of Elizabeth Holmes being charismatic and persuasive -- these were all men who had spent their careers seeing through dodges, feints, misleading tactics, and outright lies by other world leaders, some of whom also were charismatic and persuasive. In a capitalist society where corporate boards are supposed to be providing oversight on corporation management, the reasons for this failure by the Board deserve more attention.

Jun 15, 2019

I was in Athens when I started the book, and I couldn’t put it down for two whole days! A journalist at the Wall Street Journal, Carreyrou has had a streak in revealing secrets behind large industries. In 2015, Carreyrou began a series on Theranos, a company started by Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes and boarded by prominent political figures, which claimed to be able to run preventive care lab tests on a single drop of blood. Right before Carreyrou exposed her, Holmes had been appearing on multiple leading news outlets as “the next Steve Jobs” and striking deals with healthcare giants including Walgreens. So imagine the pressure Carreyrou faced as the world put her on pedestals while he investigated and fought off her lawyers!
Bad Blood follows Carreyrou as he collected his information and both his sources and him battled the various powers behind Theranos. It has just the right amount of suspense, darkness and humanity, depicting Theranos and Holmes as products of brilliant marketing and psychological manipulation, so basically a company that had everything except for actual science.
I first saw the book at @chaptersindigo in late 2018, but it was not until I listened to a podcast episode on Inside the Hive with Nick Bilton, in which Bilton, a correspondent at Vanity Fair, had an interview with Carreyrou discussing Holmes’ “sociopathetic tendencies,” that I became interested enough to buy the book. I have not looked back since then, because it is such a wonderful read! .
For more reviews, follow me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead

LPL_KatieF Jun 11, 2019

I admit, I am a little Elizabeth Holmes obsessed. I watched the HBO documentary "Out for Blood," I listened to the ABC Radio podcast, "The Dropout," and now I've read John Carreyrou's fantastically written "Bad Blood," which has finally sated my curiosity about this absolutely insane story. A total page-turner, I devoured this book in just a few days.

Jun 03, 2019

Truly a nail biting page turner, you won't be able to put it down. While I think this story is getting more attention because the villain is female, I have no doubt she is a sociopath and belongs in prison. Like the dozens of other con-people who have lied, cheated and have no morality.

May 21, 2019

Elizabeth Holmes drank too much of Steve Job's Kool Aid by her 1984 managerial style & her halo effect.
Shuttered that her vaporware company could have done more damage.

May 17, 2019

Fans of John Carreyrou's Bad Blood will definitely want to read Nick Bilton's follow up story in Vanity Fair (April 2019). If it is possible to see Elizabeth Holmes as even more troubled than Carreyrou presents, Bolton has done so in this compelling piece. The saga continues.

May 10, 2019

This is a crazy story. A classic example of truth being stranger than fiction. It is shocking what Elizabeth Holmes got away with. This is a high interest read with a good pace.

Apr 24, 2019

When you finish reading this book, you will be mad. Mad that a young woman (Elizabeth Holmes) who had a brilliant idea - simplify blood testing - could never make it work and continuously lied to investors and merchants who wanted to jump in. Mad that the woman was an absolute control freak who tried to steer the conversation in her direction. Mad that any employee would deign to try to improve the machine, or even take up independent projects not related to the business, was seen as disloyal. Mad that otherwise smart people were lied to, including Bill Clinton and Jim Cramer. And mad that a million blood tests had to be nullified because the machine gave incorrect readings, often false negatives to the ill, but even worse false positives to people who were perfectly healthy.

When the scam was finally exposed in a series of articles in the "Wall Street Journal" written by the author of the book in 2015, many well meaning people lost billions, not the least of whom was Rupert Murdoch, who just happened to own the newspaper that ran the stories. As the book went to print, the SEC had charged the company (now officially defunct), and Holmes was facing charges as an individual. A documentary has been done on HBO and a film version is in the works (as I write this). The lesson is a well worn one - if it's too good to be true, it usually is. If people had just done their due diligence, Holmes would have been exposed as a fraud almost from the get-go. This is a story of a terrible scam that stretched out for 15 years and endangered people's lives. It should be mandatory reading for any business or law ethics course.

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Jun 07, 2018

Elizabeth had hung inspirational quotes in little frames around the old Facebook building. One of them was from Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Another was from Theodore Roosevelt: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Patrick suggested they make them a more integral part of the workplace by painting them in black on the building’s white walls. Elizabeth liked the idea.

She also loved a new quote he suggested. It was from Yoda in Star Wars: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Jun 07, 2018

The media mogul sold his stock back to Theranos for one dollar so he could claim a big tax write-off on his other earnings. With a fortune estimated at $12 billion, Murdoch could afford to lose more than $100 million on a bad investment.
“VAPORWARE” was coined in the early 1980s to describe new computer software or hardware that was announced with great fanfare only to take years to materialize, if it did at all. It was a reflection of the computer industry’s tendency to play it fast and loose when it came to marketing. Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle were all accused of engaging in the practice at one point or another. Such overpromising became a defining feature of Silicon Valley. The harm done to consumers was minor, measured in frustration and deflated expectations. By positioning Theranos as a tech company in the heart of the Valley, Holmes channeled this fake-it-until-you-make-it culture, and she went to extreme lengths to hide the fakery.

Jun 07, 2018

The odd couple:

It isn’t clear exactly when Elizabeth (Elizabeth Anne Holmes born 1984) and Sunny (Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani born 1966) became romantically involved, but it appears to have been not long after she dropped out of Stanford. When they’d first met in China in the summer of 2002, Sunny was married to a Japanese artist named Keiko Fujimoto and living in San Francisco. By October 2004, he was listed as “a single man” on the deed to a condominium he purchased on Channing Avenue in Palo Alto. Other public records show Elizabeth moved into that apartment in July 2005.
FoMO—the fear of missing out.

Jun 07, 2018

From Epilogue:

March 14, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Theranos, Holmes, and Balwani with conducting “an elaborate, years-long fraud.” To resolve the agency’s civil charges, Holmes was forced to relinquish her voting control over the company, give back a big chunk of her stock, and pay a $500,000 penalty. She also agreed to be barred from being an officer or director in a public company for ten years. Unable to reach a settlement with Balwani, the SEC sued him in federal court in California. In the meantime, the criminal investigation continued to gather steam. As of this writing, criminal indictments of both Holmes and Balwani on charges of lying to investors and federal officials seem a distinct possibility.


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Jun 07, 2018

High-profile investors who lost the most money on Theranos per WSJ (in $Millions):

Walton Family: 150
Rupert Murdoch: 121
Betsy DeVos: 100
Cox Family 100
Carlos Slim 30

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