Honestly, I just want to jump RIGHT into talking about this book! It’s the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou. Here’s the scoop:
In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the next Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with its breakthrough device, which performed the whole range of laboratory tests from a single drop of blood. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.5 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work. Erroneous results put patients in danger, leading to misdiagnoses and unnecessary treatments. All the while, Holmes and her partner, Sunny Balwani, worked to silence anyone who voiced misgivings—from journalists to their own employees.
Rigorously reported and fearlessly written, Bad Blood is a gripping story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron—a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.
Okay, let me back up a little bit. A few years ago, HBO released a documentary called “The Inventor”, which covered this exact story. I am a sucker for documentaries, so I watched it having never heard about Elizabeth Holmes or Theranos, or anything of the sort.
I watched the documentary with my mouth hanging open — this story was crazy! I was honestly just dumbfounded. How could this happen? around that same time, there was also a 20/20 special on it and a podcast… I devoured both of them.
Fast forward to late last year and someone I worked with at a startup mentioned the story. She said the book was even better than the HBO documentary… so I made a mental note of it.
Then, when the pandemic started, I was seeing a few things online about how now would have been a great time for Theranos to be around. So, I looked on the Libby app to see if they had a copy, and they did!
I had to wait a few weeks for it, but it was worth the wait. Even though I have basically feasted on all of the content related to this story, the book tied everything together so nicely.
It’s obvious Carreyrou is a seasoned investigative journalist because all of the information — a bulk of it being health and science related — was presented seamlessly.
Still visibly angry, Elizabeth told the gathered employees that she was building a religion. If there were any among them who didn’t believe, they should leave. sunny put it more bluntly: anyone not prepared to show complete devotion and unmitigated loyalty to the company should “get the fuck out.”
While I read the book, I found myself drumming up a few theories and I was delighted to see that Carreyrou offered his own thoughts at the very end.
Even after I finished the book, I had to Google and see the latest news on Elizabeth Holmes. I won’t give anything away, because if you’re new to this story, I definitely thing you should read this book (if this type of thing interests you).
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Bromance Book Club” by Lisa Kay Adams.
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