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"--
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781524731656
152473165X
Branch Call Number: 338.7681761 CA
Characteristics: x, 339 pages ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Recommended by Dean: Watch an entitled, Silicon-Valley blonde crash and burn. Really satisfying.

2018 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year winner


From the critics


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carolwu96
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.

v
vivienne500
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.

m
mammothhawk229e
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.

k
KlayDyer
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.

b
becker
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.

r
rpavlacic
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.

j
JLMason
Apr 16, 2019

The rise and fall of Theranos is a cautionary tale about how smart money can be dumb. Overlooking clear warning signs of a vapourware product, investors and roll-out partners deceived themselves in their desire to be part of the “next big thing” in Silicon Valley and health care. The book is based on many interviews with past employees and people who had dealings with its bizarre founder. It provides a fascinating chronological story from their perspective, which perhaps benefits from hindsight. What the book lacks is any analysis of the founder’s psychology (white collar sociopath?) or of why so many people were fooled into thinking the company’s technology was possible.

JCLLisaH Mar 21, 2019

Do you ever wonder how corporate fraud starts, gets exposed, and in the aftermath how the all the players lives are affected? Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou offers such a glimpse into corporate fraud and all its ugliness.

Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, Carreyrou, exposes the wrong doings of Theranos, a medical blood-testing Silicon Valley startup company that had its beginnings in 2004 and came to an abrupt end in 2017. After receiving his first tip in February 2015, Carreyrou worked diligently to uncover the players, backgrounds, and legal intimidations that contributed to the conning of investors, employees, and patients as it related to Theranos and what their devices were and were not capable of providing in blood-testing devices. Theranos was fully exposed to the public on October 15, 2015, with the publication of Carreyrou’s first of many front page exposes in the Wall Street Journal.

This book takes the reader through a comprehensive journey starting with the idea and creation of Theranos by Elizabeth Holmes, a 19 year-old Stanford dropout. Holmes started with a great idea and tricked some of the most powerful investors in the US into investing in her company despite the blood-testing devices never accurately working. When she brings her lover, Sunny Balwani, on board as second in command, things go from bad to worse.

This book chronologically tells the entire story of Theranos from start to finish and how the company went from being worth $9 billion to $0. Carreyrou’s writing is factual and riveting. I enjoyed how by simply stating the facts and not analyzing the psyche of Holmes and Balwani, Carreyrou allows the reader to be amazed and dumbfounded on how the two top executives were able to keep this charade going for as a long as it did. I found this book to be a truly captivating read.

n
normf3
Mar 15, 2019

I had heard of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes at the time. I had thought the WSJ was picking on, and trying to take down Theranos. I had no idea there was fraud to this extent. And what a house of horrors to work in. Sunny Balwani sounds like a monster and Elizabeth Holmes a convincing conwoman. I am not sure if she was naïve about her product, or just doing an outright con. Great, but maddening reading.

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jimg2000
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.”

j
jimg2000
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.

j
jimg2000
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.

j
jimg2000
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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j
jimg2000
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

https://www.wsj.com/articles/theranos-cost-business-and-government-leaders-more-than-600-million-1525392082

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