Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is a non-fiction book written by journalist John Carreyrou, which tells the story of the rise and fall of Theranos, a blood-testing company founded by Elizabeth Holmes. The book explores how Holmes, once hailed as the next Steve Jobs, built a multi-billion-dollar company on a foundation of lies and deception.
Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 when she was just 19 years old. The company’s mission was to revolutionize the healthcare industry by developing a machine that could perform hundreds of blood tests with just a few drops of blood, making it easier and less painful for patients to get their blood tested. Theranos quickly attracted a lot of attention and investment from high-profile investors such as Rupert Murdoch and Betsy DeVos, as well as partnerships with major companies such as Walgreens and Safeway.
However, as Carreyrou’s investigation revealed, the technology behind Theranos was never as advanced as Holmes claimed it to be. The company was using commercial blood-testing machines made by other companies to perform most of its tests, and the results were often inaccurate and unreliable. Despite repeated warnings from employees and outside experts, Holmes continued to promote the company and its technology, even as patients were receiving incorrect diagnoses and treatments based on Theranos’s faulty tests.
Carreyrou’s reporting led to the unraveling of Theranos and the exposure of its fraudulent practices. In 2015, a former employee of Theranos contacted Carreyrou with concerns about the accuracy of the company’s blood tests, and Carreyrou began investigating. Over the next few years, Carreyrou interviewed dozens of former employees and industry experts and obtained confidential documents and emails that revealed the full extent of Theranos’s deception.
The book delves into the toxic culture of fear and secrecy that Holmes created at Theranos, where employees who raised concerns about the technology or the company’s practices were often silenced or retaliated against. Holmes herself was portrayed as a charismatic and manipulative leader who was obsessed with Steve Jobs and the idea of becoming a Silicon Valley icon. She went to great lengths to maintain the illusion of success, including falsifying test results and pressuring employees to lie to investors and partners.
The consequences of Theranos’s deception were far-reaching. Patients who relied on Theranos’s inaccurate tests received incorrect diagnoses and treatments, while investors lost billions of dollars in what turned out to be a massive fraud. Holmes and her former partner and COO, Sunny Balwani, are currently facing criminal charges for multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy.
In conclusion, Bad Blood is a gripping and eye-opening account of one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent history. Carreyrou’s reporting and writing are meticulous and engaging, and he does an excellent job of exposing the lies and deception that were at the heart of Theranos. The book serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of blind faith in charismatic leaders and the importance of skepticism and due diligence in the business world.
Reviews of Bad Blood
Critics have generally praised Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup for its thorough reporting and gripping storytelling. The book has received numerous accolades, including the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award in 2018.
Critics have praised Carreyrou for his dogged investigation into the Theranos scandal, which involved interviewing dozens of former employees and obtaining confidential documents and emails. They have also praised his clear and engaging writing style, which makes complex scientific and business concepts accessible to a general audience.
Some critics have noted that the book focuses primarily on the actions of Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani, and that it does not delve as deeply into the broader cultural and economic forces that allowed the Theranos scandal to occur. However, they acknowledge that this is a minor criticism and that the book still provides valuable insights into the dangers of unchecked ambition and the importance of ethical leadership.
Overall, Bad Blood has been widely praised as a compelling and important work of investigative journalism that exposes the dark side of Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things” mentality. It has been called a must-read for anyone interested in the tech industry, entrepreneurship, or the perils of unchecked ambition.