- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (May 21, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 152473165X
- ISBN-13: 978-1524731656
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,171 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup Hardcover – May 21, 2018
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An Amazon Best Book of May 2018: In Bad Blood, the Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou takes us through the step-by-step history of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that became almost mythical, in no small part due to its young, charismatic founder Elizabeth Holmes. In fact, Theranos was mythical for a different reason, because the technological promise it was founded upon—that vital health information could be gleaned from a small drop of blood using handheld devices—was a lie. Carreyrou tracks the experiences of former employees to craft the fascinating story of a company run under a strict code of secrecy, a place where leadership was constantly throwing up smoke screens and making promises that it could not keep. Meanwhile, investors kept pouring in money, turning Elizabeth Holmes into a temporary billionaire. As companies like Walgreens and Safeway strike deals with Theranos, and as even the army tries to get in on the Theranos promise (there’s a brief cameo by James “Mad Dog” Mattis), the plot thickens and the proverbial noose grows tighter. Although I knew how the story ended, I found myself reading this book compulsively. – Chris Schluep
"Bad Blood is the real be-all end-all of Theranos information…. Bad Blood is wild, and more happens on one page than in many other entire books." —Margaret Lyons, The New York Times
"You will not want to put this riveting, masterfully reported book down. No matter how bad you think the Theranos story was, you'll learn that the reality was actually far worse."
—Bethany McLean, bestselling coauthor of The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils Are Here
"Chilling... Carreyrou tells [this story] virtually to perfection… Reads like a West Coast version of All the President's Men."
—Roger Lowenstein, The New York Times Book Review
"The definitive account of Theranos’s downfall, detailing its motley crew of executives, legal knife fights, dramatic PR stunts, and skullduggery... Offers a lot for foreign-policy wonks... While Bad Blood is worth reading for its own merits—it’s a stunning feat of journalism that reads like a thriller—it also says a lot about Washington’s facile relationship with Silicon Valley. Most D.C. power brokers know next to nothing about science or technology but increasingly view Silicon Valley tech as a deus ex machina for some of the world’s most complicated challenges. Bad Blood offers a sobering warning of where that type of thinking can lead."
—Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy
"A great and at times almost unbelievable story of scandalous fraud, surveillance, and legal intimidation at the highest levels of American corporate power. . . . The story of Theranos may be the biggest case of corporate fraud since Enron. But it’s also the story of how a lot of powerful men were fooled by a remarkably brazen liar."
—Yashar Ali, New York Magazine
"Even if you didn’t follow the story of charismatic Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes (and the ensuing trainwreck) in the news, you will find yourself zipping through a book that proves once again that fact is stranger than fiction. A stunning look into a high-tech hoodwinking; like a high-speed car chase in a book."
—The New York Post's "28 Most Unforgettable Books of 2018"
"In Bad Blood, acclaimed investigative journalist John Carreyrou, who broke the story in 2015, presents comprehensive evidence of the fraud perpetrated by Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes... He unveils many dark secrets of Theranos that have not previously been laid bare… The combination of these brave whistle-blowers, and a tenacious journalist who interviewed 150 people (including 60 former employees) makes for a veritable page-turner."
—Eric Topol, Nature
"Engrossing… Bad Blood boasts movie-scene detail… Theranos, Carreyrou writes, was a revolving door, as Holmes and Balwani fired anyone who voiced even tentative doubts… What’s frightening is how easy it is to imagine a different outcome, one in which the company’s blood-testing devices continued to proliferate. That the story played out as it did is a testament to the many individuals who spoke up, at great personal risk."
—Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Science
"In exposing the fudged numbers, boardroom battles and sickening sums of money tossed Theranos’ way, Bad Blood succeeds in highlighting Silicon Valley’s paradoxical blind spot. Insular corporate culture and benevolent media coverage have allowed a monster to grow in the Valley—one that gambles not just with our smart phones or our democracy, but with people’s lives. Bad Blood reveals a crucial truth: outside observers must act as the eyes, the ears and, most importantly, the voice of Silicon Valley’s blind spot."
—B. David Zarley, Paste Magazine's "16 Best Nonfiction Books of 2018"
"Carreyrou blends lucid descriptions of Theranos’s technology and its failures with a vivid portrait of its toxic culture and its supporters’ delusional boosterism. The result is a bracing cautionary tale about visionary entrepreneurship gone very wrong."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred)
"Crime thriller authors have nothing on Carreyrou's exquisite sense of suspenseful pacing and multifaceted character development in this riveting, read-in-one-sitting tour de force.... Carreyrou's commitment to unraveling Holmes' crimes was literally of life-saving value."
—Booklist (Starred Review)
"Eye-opening... A vivid, cinematic portrayal of serpentine Silicon Valley corruption... A deep investigative report on the sensationalistic downfall of multibillion-dollar Silicon Valley biotech startup Theranos. Basing his findings on hundreds of interviews with people inside and outside the company, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Carreyrou rigorously examines the seamy details behind the demise of Theranos and its creator, Elizabeth Holmes… [Carreyrou] brilliantly captures the interpersonal melodrama, hidden agendas, gross misrepresentations, nepotism, and a host of delusions and lies that further fractured the company’s reputation and halted its rise."
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The subject matter - developing devices and assays - is a complex dry topic, difficult to write engagingly about. But JC does a workmanlike job and I read this in one go after its midnight Kindle release. My only nit to pick is the poor editing: there are so many uses of '....named....' as in 'an engineer named John Smith' or 'a restaurant named Joe's Bar' that it got irritating. Find/replace 'named' with a comma would have worked fine in most cases. The text was also repetitive - eg '...an award named after Channing...' gets at least 2 mentions. But not enough to lose a star.
Kudos to the good people at Theranos who had the courage to get the story out and for JCs persistence into a headwind of legalistic intimidation. I've heard Theranos is now a case-study for MBA students: this book should be required reading for anyone thinking about 'disrupting' the medical devices industry. There are lives at stake.
Elizabeth Holmes leveraged her family's high profile connections to draw in early investors and supporters, who were not very inquisitive on details, nor very skeptical in nature. Drawing on the good name and reputation of these early supporters, she was able to build an impressive roster of other supporters with stellar reputations in tech and venture capital circles. From there, it was just a matter of stage managing the house of cards she was building.
Holmes crafted a Potemkin village that had fooled investors, customers, and visiting dignitaries. Her product demonstrations were outright theater, staged managed illusions worthy of David Copperfield. Theranos employees in on the ruse were assured it was just temporary, until the actual product could be perfected and the results repeatable. That day would never come. Those on the outside who also worked in this field had well founded and grave doubts about how Theranos could be touting a product that seemingly defied both logic and physics. Their suspicions, proven to be correct, was that it was too good to be true.
Without a trace of guilt or regret, she induced powerful tech workers to leave lucrative careers at other major tech firms, giving up millions in stock options, to come work for Theranos, surely knowing the whole thing would collapse one day. When skeptical board members asked to see data affirming the effectiveness of their product, Holmes would defer, saying those papers were in perpetual legal review. Some employees, when they were no longer useful to her, or deemed disloyal, were immediately and unceremoniously marched out.
This is a real life thriller, the story of someone who is a true diabolical movie villain. Holmes is portrayed vividly as a paranoid sociopath who could also be disarming, charmingly manipulative, utterly ruthless and devoid of conscience. This is a tale of corporate greed and lack of regulatory oversight gone all awry.
It is staggering how many people she swayed. We’re not just talking about a co-worker or two but former heads of state, who later joined her board, people who amassed fortunes in the billions who were willing to loan Theranos money, major corporations including Walgreens and Safeway who wanted to get in on the ground floor, and many more. It is equally astonishing how so many smart, successful people were not taken aback by her freakish obsession with imitating Steve Jobs. Perhaps, they chalked this up to her eccentricity.
It took courage for people to come forward. They were threatened with lawsuits that could bankrupt them ten times over, by one of the leading and most intimidating litigators in the country. Carreyrou, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, who has been with The Wall Street Journal for almost 10 years, had the support of his editor, newspaper, and its attorneys. He never thought for a minute to back down. The result – a series of articles in the paper that exposed Theranos and Holmes for the fraud they committed.
It is dumbfounding to read BAD BLOOD and to think that Holmes and her number two in command, Sunny Balwani, also her romantic partner, which was kept secret, got away with so much for so long, and even when finally confronted and their hands were forced, they still would not admit fault. Is Holmes a criminal? Is she delusional?
What I do know is that you will not be able to put this book down.