Bad Blood: ~ by John Carreyrou

Yes!  It’s every bit as good as the hype and reviews say it is and it’s on several “Best of 2018” lists.  I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out because the techie/true crime nature of it really appealed to me.  But the medical part didn’t at all.  

 This is the story of how the miracle medical breakthrough by a Silicon Valley startup health company named Theranos run by Elizabeth Holmes.  

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup 
by John Carreyrou
2018 / 320 pages
read by Will Damron – 11h 37m
rating:  9.5 –   business-economics-true crime

What happened?  There’s still plenty of room for speculation as to specifics,  but the upshot is that most of the company’s results were fraudulent in some way. Carreyrou uses interviews with many of the top players as well as court transcripts and other written evidence (emails, reports and memos etc) to outline the inside operations of Theranos as Elizabeth pushed her way toward selling her product anyway. Back in 2004 Elizabeth Holmes,  the brilliant 20-year old daughter of a prominent business executive and his wife,  left Stanford University to form a startup she had conceived. She wanted to develop a method and device for doing blood tests at home instead of in medical labs. 

Elizabeth Holmes

The idea was apparently a hot one because she was successful in getting funded through family friends  and a few venture capitalists.  Then she managed to get the backing of famous people and hire some excellent engineers and other employees.  There’s also a developing paranoia on the part of Elizabeth and Sonny Balwani, her co-administrator/significant other. And they used a lot of techniques to intimidate people and skirt the law.  There’s a fair amount of material about legal shenanigans involved, but I love that. 

There are many interrelated threads as the narrative follows the stories of numerous employees of various sorts, legal people,  some friends, board members, doctors, reporters including John Carreyrou and others,  

Carreyrou is an excellent writer at the Wall Street Journal and skillfully builds the tension to near thriller level.  There is an Epilogue but it would have been written around January of 2018 and more has happened  –  Google Elizabeth Holmes,  there’s lots out there. 

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