Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers. In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a br...

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Title:Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Author:John Carreyrou
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Edition Language:English

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup Reviews

  • Michael Perkins

    "The resignations infuriated Elizabeth and Sunny. The following day, they summoned the staff for an all-hands meeting in the cafeteria. Copies of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho had been placed on every chair. Elizabeth told the gathered employees that she was building a religion. If there was anyone not prepared to show complete devotion and unmitigated loyalty to the company they should “get the fuck out.”

    The Steve Jobs Syndrome

    I have covered Silicon Valley as a journalist and author for three d

    "The resignations infuriated Elizabeth and Sunny. The following day, they summoned the staff for an all-hands meeting in the cafeteria. Copies of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho had been placed on every chair. Elizabeth told the gathered employees that she was building a religion. If there was anyone not prepared to show complete devotion and unmitigated loyalty to the company they should “get the fuck out.”

    The Steve Jobs Syndrome

    I have covered Silicon Valley as a journalist and author for three decades now. I’m not big on attending conferences, but made a point to go to an awards event at a favorite forum in September 2015. Among the recipients that year was Silicon Valley legend, Andy Grove, getting the lifetime achievement award.

    Also on the list, getting the “global benefactor” award, was someone I had never heard of, Elizabeth Holmes. I had also never heard of her company, Theranos. Though I once worked for a business magazine, I never read any others. And Theranos was in the medical device “space,” which is pretty different from software and social media.

    Her presentation was last. Joining her on stage was her Stanford professor and mentor, Channing Robertson. He spoke first. He told this story of Holmes as a kind of prodigy who camped out at the doors of his office and lab until he admitted her as a freshman into his upper division courses in chemical engineering. I would learn later that he considered Holmes a once-in-a-generation genius, comparing her to Newton, Einstein, Mozart, and Leonardo da Vinci. Heavy praise, indeed.

    Holmes was up next. She wore a black, mock turtleneck that reminded me of Steve Jobs. Her dyed blond hair was up, slightly skewed, that struck me as a bit calculated. She had large, unblinking blue eyes and spoke in a low baritone. By the end of her talk, it struck me that she had essentially said nothing of substance about her product or her company. Instead, it was high-falutin’ claims that reminded me of the rhetoric Steve Jobs used when rolling out a new product, except that he had a real product he was demonstrating each time. I was immediately suspicious of Holmes and Theranos. I had seen too much over the years to take something like this at face value.

    When I got home, I did a computer search and learned that Holmes had been on the cover of numerous business magazines as the first female tech billionaire. (My wife would always add: “on paper.”) In some photos she posed with a tiny vial of blood that was supposed to represent all that would be needed to do numerous tests with the company device.

    Almost a month later, the first in a series of Wall Street Journal articles about Theranos, by the author of this book, was published. It reported that their technology did not work. (I was to learn later that the author interviewed 60 former Theranos employees for his research). My suspicions were confirmed. I eagerly read every new installment of the WSJ series.

    But “Bad Blood” goes much deeper than those articles. It turns out that Channing Robertson was not the only older man over whom Holmes had a kind of hypnotic power, like the mythical Mata Hari. There was veteran venture capitalist, Donald L. Lucas, whose backing and connections enabled Holmes to keep raising money. Then Dr. J and Wade Miquelon at Walgreens and Safeway CEO Steve Burd, as well as General James Mattis (now Trump’s Secretary of Defense), George Shultz, and Henry Kissinger.

    All of these men served as enablers, when they were in positions where they could have put a stop to the fraud. Most of these operations had experts who knew the science and tried to warn their superiors, but were ignored. And there’s no doubt that the medical miracles Theranos promised were very appealing to these older men, as well as to so many others who heard her spiel.

    One of the most important older men was Sunny Balwani, her romantic partner 20 years her senior. He knew nothing about science, but was essentially her primary henchman for bullying dissenters in the company, heading up employee surveillance and doing the dirty work of firing people. He also subbed as CFO after the only one they had was fired for questioning company honesty. Balwani would pull numbers out of his butt and claim they were legitimate revenue projections.

    Those who weren’t fooled were veteran venture capitalists who had been investing in the medical device space for years. During one of her pitches to these firms, she was asked so many questions she couldn’t answer that she stormed out of the conference room. In a one-on-one encounter with another successful venture capitalist he asked to see her device. Instead, she slapped her notebook shut and said: “if you can’t trust me, I can’t work with you” and slammed the door behind her as she departed.

    In turns out that in spite of her time at Stanford, Holmes didn’t know much science. She described the process of her device as follows….

    “A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.”

    The selling point was no more needles, just a slight lance of a fingertip could provide enough blood to do countless tests. When the author queried Timothy Hamill, from the UCSF Department of Laboratory Science, he told him…

    "….the pitfalls of using blood pricked from a finger. Unlike venous blood drawn from the arm, capillary blood was polluted by fluids from tissues and cells that interfered with tests and made measurements less accurate. “I’d be less surprised if they told us they were time travelers who came back from the twenty-seventh century than if they told us they cracked that nut,” he added.

    The whole concept was flawed from the beginning. Holmes used non-company technology to try to cover this up. In a PowerPoint presentation she made to investors one slide showed scatter plots purporting to favorably compare test data from Theranos’s proprietary analyzers to data from conventional lab machines. But all the data came from non-Theranos technology. They often used other tech than company technology that could not generate accurate results for patients. Theranos even resorted to using hypodermic needles, instead of the promised fingertip prick.

    Meanwhile, Holmes continued to expand her Steve Jobs persona. She drank green kale shakes (Jobs was vegan), leased cars with no license plates (as he had), had several bodyguards who referred to her as Eagle1 (Eagle2 was Bulwani) and flew in a Gulfstream Jet. She referred to her device as the i-Pod of Health. And even hired the ad and pr firm that Apple once used, Chiat-Day, even though Theranos could not afford them. And looking back, it appeared that her dropping out of college was part of a script, just the way Jobs and Gates dropped out to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

    When she went on the Jim Cramer’s “Mad Money” show to denounce the WSJ, she sounded very Jobs-like when she said: “First they think you’re crazy, then they fight you, and then, all of a sudden, you change the world.“

    Not surprisingly, Theranos kept missing their deadlines. Its contract with Safeway fell through, but Walgreen’s was more important to them. Several stores in Arizona went “live” with testing. Most tests done there were way off, resulting in unnecessary trips to the ER and potential over-treatment. Various doctors and patients published negative reviews on Yelp.

    This put the company in the realm of reckless endangerment: “a crime consisting of acts that create a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.”

    This reality upset many employees who wanted no part of a fraud that would harm people.

    At company meetings, Holmes would say: “If anyone here believes you are not working on the best thing humans have ever built, then you should leave.”

    Many took her up on that, but it was never without controversy.

    Meanwhile, bulldog Sunny was dispatched to Arizona to intimidate those who had posted negative Yelp reviews. And the company had hired super-lawyer David Boies to threaten suit against anyone who revealed insider info on the company. Just as one example, it cost the Schulz family $400k in legal fees to defend George’s nephew Tyler. Theranos knew Tyler had met with the author because they had a tail on both Tyler and the author.

    When I finished the book I thought back on that awards ceremony I had attended where I first saw Holmes. I recalled Andy Grove, whose lifetime achievement award represented the original Silicon Valley of sweat equity. Grove lived through the Nazi occupation of his native country of Hungary and escaped after it became Communist. In New York, he worked as a busboy while he learned English and obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from City College of New York. Graduate work took him to the west coast, where he earned a Ph.D from U.C. Berkeley in chemical engineering. He would go on to help found chip maker, Intel, a company that truly changed the world.

    These days, what I see in Silicon Valley is an increasing obsession with wealth and an absence of ethics, and the spread of the Steve Jobs Syndrome, like some kind of disease. Theranos epitomized all of this. The result is a lack of the honest work that Grove epitomized, in which wealth and notoriety were by-products not goals. The real goal was to do good work, first and foremost. And always tell the truth.

    =============

    12/10/18

    Now, let me introduce you to the Elizabeth Holmes of charity fraud....

  • Andrew Garvin

    Early in my career I worked at a next-generation sequencing startup with Theranos-level ambitions. In fact, it went further. The founders’ mission was to cure aging. Literally, the goal was immortality.

    There were other similarities: The company was founded by wunderkinds, they won the attention and support of a prominent professor in the field, they dropped out and raised millions of dollars from non-hard tech investors off the back of a concept, then tens of millions of dollars off the back of

    Early in my career I worked at a next-generation sequencing startup with Theranos-level ambitions. In fact, it went further. The founders’ mission was to cure aging. Literally, the goal was immortality.

    There were other similarities: The company was founded by wunderkinds, they won the attention and support of a prominent professor in the field, they dropped out and raised millions of dollars from non-hard tech investors off the back of a concept, then tens of millions of dollars off the back of a glued together prototype, all while pursuing a fantastical goal.

    The company was wild but not fraudulent. Quite the contrary: When the founders realized that the technology was not going to work (or would take many more years to validate) they decided to fold the company. All of the scientists - even the skeptics - were shocked and disappointed. We were on the verge of breaking through in key areas. But, it was over.

    And, the irony? Many of those scientists went on to work at Theranos. It was just down the street.

    By 2012 they had all left Theranos. ‘It's too crazy’. ‘It’s way worse’. Way worse than an immature company that blew up on a whim? I started following Theranos: the Glassdoor reviews, the funding announcements, the glowing press coverage. It was surreal to know that the company was a fraud and yet to see it rise.

    Carreyrou exposed it all. How Holmes and Balwani drove an employee to suicide, how they strong-armed employees, investors, even generals and statesmen, how they lied to win multi-million dollar deals from credulous partners. The pulp in Bad Blood is juicy. I read the book on one overseas flight.

    Theranos is extreme but not singular. Silicon Valley lionizes founders and ‘overnight’, 100X successes. Investors are pushed & pulled toward a hands-off approach. Founders retain board control and investors don’t meddle. This environment is prime for fraud. My management philosophy: In a vacuum, everyone cuts corners. Everyone gets lazy. And, unscrupulous people do worse.

    A couple years ago

    : ‘At what point do high-profile unicorn frauds irreparably damage the philosophy and practice of founder-friendly investors?’ That was about Hampton Creek. It could have been about Zenefits, or Uber (in a sense), or, of course, Theranos. Who will be next? The odds-on favorite is WeWork. Does Tesla (a public company) count? The whisper-consensus has many candidates.

    There are many frauds left to be exposed. But, none as big as Theranos. Well, maybe one or two.

  • BlackOxford

    I have been guilty of the grave fault of idealism in much of my professional life. Consequently I cringe when I read of the young Elizabeth Holmes and her idealistic trajectory from the thrilling emotionally-laden launch of Theranos, which promised a breakthrough in medical technology, to its ignominious destruction as a fraudulent scam. In her I see myself - not in her level of talent or her self-confidence but in her profound self-delusion. It is this self-delusion whi

    I have been guilty of the grave fault of idealism in much of my professional life. Consequently I cringe when I read of the young Elizabeth Holmes and her idealistic trajectory from the thrilling emotionally-laden launch of Theranos, which promised a breakthrough in medical technology, to its ignominious destruction as a fraudulent scam. In her I see myself - not in her level of talent or her self-confidence but in her profound self-delusion. It is this self-delusion which seems the universal cost of idealism, a cost which is borne not just by the promoter of an ideal but by the rest of the world as well - in her case about a billion dollars in round figures.

    Idealism sells. What it primarily sells is itself - its promise, its enthusiasm, its own inherent goodness. Modern serial idealists in places like Silicon Valley are idealists about idealism. It is their idealistic energy and talent for putting together pieces in a technological/conceptual/commercial puzzle that gets them what they need: ideas, contacts, talented colleagues, reputation, and money.

    The code phrase of the idealist is ‘Making a Difference.’ So Holmes

    But most of all their energy and enthusiasm gets them power, the power to promote their own idealistic self-image.

    Idealism is always couched in terms of abstract altruism, that is, improving the human condition. But no matter what the area in which a particular ideal is to be pursued - business, politics, medicine, academia - the idealist imperative, his or her sine qua non, is the acquisition and maintenance of power for themselves.

    Power is a logical and practical prerequisite for the realisation of any ideal. Idealists therefore want to enrol the rest of us in their ideal. This is their route to power. Their role model is not that of Albert Schweitzer or Mother Teresa and the selfless doing of good but that of Pericles and the talking of doing good, usually about what others are required to do to prove their goodness.

    The world of the idealist is constrained and defined by power regardless of the merits of the ideal put forth as its rationale. Power is the elephant in the room that no one talks about but that must be constantly fed. Eventually there is room for nothing else. The ideal one has started with becomes a nostalgic memory, restored to mind only at the behest of power to increase itself. This is the essential paradox 0f idealism: it will always end in tears.

    The more articulate and forceful idealists are in presenting their ideal, the more power they accumulate. The idealist is a visionary, a prophet who deserves power because of the strength of their vision and prophetic acumen. Holmes made it clear to her employees that she was

    It is faith which justifies, for the idealist as for any believer, those actions necessary to acquire power. Chief among such actions is lying.

    Chronic mendacity is not incidental or exceptional for the idealist. It is a necessary virtue of technique and substance. Lying is expected because all communication is negotiation, is it not? This is the common thread among idealists of diverse backgrounds, views, and personalities. Donald Trump is an entrepreneurial idealist; Benedict XVI is a religious idealist; Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are high-tech idealists; as indeed is Elizabeth Holmes. However else they differ, they share this distinctive trait: they lie instinctively and routinely, and without remorse, indeed, I suspect, without consciousness of lying at all.

    Although idealists have to be enthusiastic salesmen, they are not mere evangelists who tout the advantages of their ideal, while staying silent about its possible defects or adverse consequences. Idealists are true believers. Unlike typical salesmen they do not present half truths, distortions, overstatement, and tendentious arguments knowing them to be such. They believe firmly in everything they say. They are compelling, even for hard-bitten venture capitalists. The guy Holmes recruited to do the engineering was mesmerised by her take of difference-making:

    The ideal consumes idealists, including their awareness of reality. In their own minds they do not lie, they convince - themselves as much as others - in order to further the ideal. Lies are aspirational statements not false claims. Their repetition is constructive truth, an embodiment of hope, and a demonstration of that very Christian virtue of faith. So from the start of Theranos, Holmes was faking the results of her diagnostic devices through high-tech trickery - believing, much like Bernie Madoff (another idealist), that the breakthrough was at hand. She was selling nanobot snake oil to West Coast money men at the same time as Goldman Sachs (an exceptionally idealistic firm, just ask them) was pushing its sub-prime portfolios into German pension funds. Same product - efficiency - just different labels, one procedural, the other financial.

    In short idealism is not merely a neurosis; it is a sociopathology. Idealists don’t simply have ideals; they seek to impose them on the rest of us - at a profit. Idealism is an infection spread from mouth to ear to mouth. As both a philosophy and a practical ethic it is the secular residue of the Christian idea of faith. It may not move mountains directly but it certainly can generate the cash to develop the machines which can. And idealism justifies anything for those who have it; it makes the idealist immune from self-criticism, and indifferent to the consequences of his actions. Idealism certainly gets things done in a world which expects and respects it. But what it gets done is rarely discussed.

    In business the consequence is constant low-level deceit punctuated by not infrequent criminal fraud; in politics the consequence is extremism and ultimately terrorism; in religion, fundamentalism and doctrinally-justified inhumanity. Idealism, like its progenitor of faith, is something we culturally value. The central question that

    raises is not legal, or organisational; nor is it essentially about the moral code of Silicon Valley. It is about whether this legacy of what we glibly call Christian civilisation is a salvific virtue or a destructive vice.

    Postscript: It is also clear that idealists have no shame:

  • Roxane

    Fascinating accounting of the Theranos scam and I do mean SCAM. Exhaustively reported. I do wish there had been more analysis of how a scam of this magnitude was made possible and enabled. This girl dropped out of college and convinced Henry Kissinger, George Schulz, Rupert Murdoch and a bunch of other famous and/or incredibly talented people to give her money or work with her even though there was no there, there. WHAT? There are so many incredible WTF moments. Just wow. Privilege is a hell of

    Fascinating accounting of the Theranos scam and I do mean SCAM. Exhaustively reported. I do wish there had been more analysis of how a scam of this magnitude was made possible and enabled. This girl dropped out of college and convinced Henry Kissinger, George Schulz, Rupert Murdoch and a bunch of other famous and/or incredibly talented people to give her money or work with her even though there was no there, there. WHAT? There are so many incredible WTF moments. Just wow. Privilege is a hell of a drug, I guess.

  • Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)

    I'm a fan of financial stories and I personally work in the tech industry so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. If you like shows like Shark Tank, I think you will find this story interesting.

    Elizabeth Holmes is 19 and an incredibly smart girl. She decides to dropout of Stanford because she has an idea

    I'm a fan of financial stories and I personally work in the tech industry so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. If you like shows like Shark Tank, I think you will find this story interesting.

    Elizabeth Holmes is 19 and an incredibly smart girl. She decides to dropout of Stanford because she has an idea for a medical device that could

    The device is supposed to eliminate drawing blood through a large needle and instead simply prick your finger and get results faster. She becomes romantically involved with a guy 20 years her senior named Sunny who becomes a powerhouse at the company. They name the company Theranos. Elisabeth is called the next Steve Jobs. Her company goes and eventually is valued at 9 Billion dollars and she becomes the most valuable female CEO ever. Walgreens and Safeway buy into the idea and invest millions. Other famous names invest as well such as, Rupert Murdoch.

    This all sounds good and well right? Well what if you worked at a company and found out the entire product was a lie and didn't actually work? What if you realized that the company you are working for made a product that can potentially kill people because the company is faking results and putting innocent lives at risk? Would you quit or say something? If you quit you get harassed & sued (you have to sign an NDA) if you speak a word. If you speak up you immediately get fired and harassed. Let's just say the grass isn't always greener. One day the lies start to come out from a WSJ article when ex-Theranos employees start to speak anonymously...

    This story honestly blew me away. I have no idea how large companies such as Walgreens and Safeway were able to not see through the lies. Maybe Elizabeth was an amazing negotiator but if I invested hundreds of millions of dollars and the product wasn't hitting timelines I would end that ASAP. I think that the companies had FOMO (fear of missing out), at least Walgreens did. They were afraid of CVS getting the business instead, only to be duped.

    The author, who is also the WSJ journalist who broke this story, calls Elizabeth a sociopath. He says they are defined by: not having a conscience in regards to actions they've taken. I'm not sure I would have pegged her as that but when you think about it, she literally could have killed people if doctors actually believe this medical device worked. Luckily, the WSJ article broke before it became a real problem. But morally how can someone do that? Oh and if you look Elizabeth up online she's already starting to try to get people to invest in a new business idea she has. I guess she's moved on...

    This story was so interesting and I highly recommend for those who enjoy good business scandals/investment stories. It was a wild ride and I also learned a lot about blood science! This definitely lives up to the hype.

  • HFK

    While reading

    , my blood was boiling. Partly because I have enormous dislike towards Elizabeth Holmes, but also because our house has been doing 35 to 40 degrees (celsius) a day as does my workplace, too.

    (Finland, as well as many other European countries, is not designed for a hot weather, but instead our buildings and ventilation is made to keep

    . This includes private housing but also public infrastructure such as hospitals, shops

    While reading

    , my blood was boiling. Partly because I have enormous dislike towards Elizabeth Holmes, but also because our house has been doing 35 to 40 degrees (celsius) a day as does my workplace, too.

    (Finland, as well as many other European countries, is not designed for a hot weather, but instead our buildings and ventilation is made to keep

    . This includes private housing but also public infrastructure such as hospitals, shops, buses etc.)

    I was familiar with Elizabeth Holmes from early on due to reading a lot of medical and science oriented publications. To my surprise, not many of the people I talked during this read knew much about her or her scam with her company named Theranos. This, even she was hauled by many media outlets to be a female version of Jobs for her invention of a device that could map everything through a one drop of blood. A device that would eventually be found in people's private homes.

    Holmes marketed her i-phone-look-a-like invention as something that would change the world by making blood testing easy and less painful. Goodbye to the endless blood tests and needle poking, welcome a device that would find everything by just using a tiny drop from your fingertip.

    That is all great, but there was a problem - the device did not work, nor was it ever in levels where it could. This did not stop Holmes, she kept marketing and painting this heavenly picture of a groundbreaking medical invention. She managed to scam investors, professionals and people who are generally considered smart enough to not to be fooled in business moves.

    There was a lot of people pointing out the flaws, faults and the lack of substance, but they were often dismissed by the companies higher management in fear of "missing out". A syndrome that plagues industries - where something is considered so good and profitable that it is a risk to decline it in a case it would actually end up working and be found in the hands of the rivals.

    Elizabeth Holmes, and her shady crew, exploited this syndrome to the fullest. I still can't believe how she got away with it for so long as her methods were surprisingly poor, but her abilities to exploit this syndrome were extremely profitable.

    Elizabeth Holmes is a pretty, young lady. She is a blonde, has big blue eyes, and a baritone voice, which according to ex-workers might not be her real voice but a fabricated one. I understand the latter - as someone who has worked in telemarketing sections of multiple firms, my young sounding voice with a feminine rasp has been my greatest and most valued asset.

    When you add the inspirational way of presenting herself and having luminous way of handling her physical appearance, you had a package that was able to convince even the ones that should have not been.

    Holmes seems to posses sociopathic tendencies, and I do not even a moment think she was manipulated by older men, or that she was just innocently doing what everyone else in Silicon Valley do. The need and want to always see a woman in a better light.

    She wanted to be rich, that was her initial goal but adding something world changing into it was her way of getting her immortality. As someone who is married to an inventor that holds many patents in his and his teams name, I find calling Holmes as such is almost disgraceful to the people who work with integrity and talent to make betterments that no one notices even when that something would be a thing they use every single day.

    In Holmes case, she simply wanted something and put other people to work and she herself had little business in it other than not accepting anything negative, productive or reasonable about her views of how a device should be.

    She and her crew was an hideous example of corporation way of handling their business and their workers. The constant lawsuits, the intimidating acts and assembly line hiring and firing, surveillance and lack of interest of the ability and professionalism of their workmanship was an angering read to experience.

    More so, as this device of theirs was pushed up so far as actually being used, which resulted in false results, health-scares, unnecessary ER visits and most likely to unnecessary treatments and medication, too. Elizabeth Holmes made all this happen while knowing her device was not functional in any levels by hiding, lying and intimidating. She even promoted it to be used inside U.S. army - specifically in war zones.

    There could have been endless deaths, false diagnoses - but luckily there was John Carreyrou that kept going and exposing one of the biggest scams of recent years. Kuddos to him.

    John Carreyrou did exhausting research, interviewed over 60 former employers and connections, but Elizabeth Holmes herself declined to talk with him. That is surely understandable. It is not a long time she could keep up her false Jobs-act intact as the longer time you spend with a person like Holmes, the faster you notice that under all that civility, good manners, inspirational way of speaking has very little of substance.

    Holmes would make a great politician, probably very loved at that.

  • Lex Kent

    I don’t read a lot of nonfiction books. I love the imagination of fiction. When I heard about this book from a television show, it sounded unbelievable. The fact that this was a true story that seemed stranger than fiction, I had to give it a read. I’m really glad I did because this was really good.

    This story is about the youngest woman, to become a self-made billionaire, and the giant fraud she committed on Silicon Valley. Elizabeth Holmes, was a Stanford drop-out that used her knowledge and f

    I don’t read a lot of nonfiction books. I love the imagination of fiction. When I heard about this book from a television show, it sounded unbelievable. The fact that this was a true story that seemed stranger than fiction, I had to give it a read. I’m really glad I did because this was really good.

    This story is about the youngest woman, to become a self-made billionaire, and the giant fraud she committed on Silicon Valley. Elizabeth Holmes, was a Stanford drop-out that used her knowledge and family connections to build a billion dollar start-up name Theranos. Theranos invented a blood testing portable machine that could test all the different blood tests a major lab would with just a drop of blood. This was a major breakthrough as it could stop the need for needles and vials of blood sick patients have to constantly be subjected to. Not only that but these machines were to be rolled out in Safeway (a supermarket) and Walgreens (a drug store) all over the USA so everyone could afford to be tested. The problem with this great idea; the machines never actually worked!

    This truly is one of the biggest scams Silicon Valley had ever seen. The cheating and lies and manipulation are unbelievable. The amount of people Elizabeth managed to bewitch is staggering. These were smart people she swindled. If you live in the USA, you will be shocked by many of the big names that totally fell for the scam. Actually, the names are so big you will probably recognize them even living outside the USA.

    At one point Elizabeth was worth close to 5 billion dollars. This book is written by the Wall Street Journalist that fought to bring her lies to light. This book is also about the brave men and women who were ex and current employees that risked lawsuits and bullying to blow the whistle.

    If you have heard about this book and were considering reading it I absolutely recommend it. This is not my normal fiction I love to read, instead it’s the unbelievable truth.

  • Bill Gates

    I don’t read a lot of page turners. I often find myself unable to put a book down—but they’re not the kinds of books that would keep most people glued to their chairs. Still, I recently found myself reading a book so compelling that I couldn’t turn away.

    by John Carreyrou details the rise and fall of Theranos. If you aren’t familiar with the Theranos story, here’s the short version: the company promised to quickly give you a complete picture

    I don’t read a lot of page turners. I often find myself unable to put a book down—but they’re not the kinds of books that would keep most people glued to their chairs. Still, I recently found myself reading a book so compelling that I couldn’t turn away.

    by John Carreyrou details the rise and fall of Theranos. If you aren’t familiar with the Theranos story, here’s the short version: the company promised to quickly give you a complete picture of your health using only a small amount of blood. Elizabeth Holmes founded it when she was just 19 years old, and both she and Theranos quickly became the darlings of Silicon Valley. She gave massively popular TED talks and appeared on the covers of

    and

    .

    By 2013, Theranos was valued at nearly $10 billion and even partnered with Walgreens to put their blood tests in stores around the country. The problem? Their technology never worked. It never came close to working. But Holmes was so good at selling her vision that she wasn’t stopped until after real patients were using the company’s “tests” to make decisions about their health. She and her former business partner are now facing potential jail time on fraud charges, and Theranos officially shut down in August.

    The public didn’t know about Theranos’ deception until Carreyrou broke the story as a reporter at the

    . Because he was so integral to the company’s demise,

    offers a remarkable inside look.

    Some of the details he shares are—for lack of a better word—insane. Holmes would invite prospective investors to the lab, so they could get their blood tested on a Theranos machine. The device had been programmed to show a really slow progress bar instead of an error message. When results didn’t come back right away, Holmes sent the investors home and promised to follow up with results.

    As soon as they left, an employee would remove the blood sample from the device and transfer it to a commercial blood analyzer. Her investors got their blood tested by the same machines available in any lab in the country, and they had no idea.

    There’s a lot Silicon Valley can learn from the Theranos mess. To start, a company needs relevant experts on its board of directors. The Theranos board had some heavy hitters—including several former Cabinet secretaries and senators—but for most of the company’s existence, none of them had any expertise in diagnostics. If they had, they might have noticed the red flags a lot sooner.

    Health technology requires a different approach than other kinds of technology, because human lives are on the line. Carreyrou writes a lot about how Holmes idolized Steve Jobs and his unwillingness to compromise on his vision. That approach is okay for consumer electronics—if a new phone doesn’t work as promised, no one gets hurt—but it’s irresponsible for a health company. Holmes pushed a vision of what Theranos could be, not what it actually was, and people suffered as a result.

    is also a cautionary tale about the virtues of celebrity. On the surface, Holmes was everything Silicon Valley loves in a CEO: charismatic and convincing with a memorable personal story made for magazine profiles. There’s nothing wrong with that on its own. A rock star CEO can be a huge boon for a startup. But you can’t let fame become the most important thing.

    Theranos is the worst-case scenario of what happens when a CEO prioritizes personal legacy above all else—but I hope that people don’t use it as an excuse to write off the next young woman with a big idea. I also don’t want Bad Blood to scare people away from next-gen diagnostics. Theranos went to extraordinary lengths to get around quality standards. The industry is highly regulated, and new diagnostics undergo rigorous testing.

    tackles some serious ethical questions, but it is ultimately a thriller with a tragic ending. It’s a fun read full of bizarre details that will make you gasp out loud. The story almost feels too ridiculous to be real at points (no wonder Hollywood is already planning to turn it into a movie). I think it’s the perfect book to read by the fire this winter.

  • Lola

    A company that set out to save lives… only to put those same lives in danger with its malfunctioning technology.

    What a scary and fascinating story. It’s hard to believe that Theranos really happened because you think that nowadays it’s easy to spot liars and lying technologies… but it’s not that easy after all, especially if the person duping you is as charismatic as this Elizabeth Holmes is.

    But the main reason why it took a VERY long time for people to catch on that Theranos was doing more har

    A company that set out to save lives… only to put those same lives in danger with its malfunctioning technology.

    What a scary and fascinating story. It’s hard to believe that Theranos really happened because you think that nowadays it’s easy to spot liars and lying technologies… but it’s not that easy after all, especially if the person duping you is as charismatic as this Elizabeth Holmes is.

    But the main reason why it took a VERY long time for people to catch on that Theranos was doing more harm than good was that people WANTED to believe in the product. If someone is creating a new game and trying to fool you that the game works when it doesn’t, you have doubts pretty early on. But then again, a game is unlikely to change your life like this medical machine promised to do.

    I, myself, wanted Elizabeth Holmes’s idea to work because how amazing would it have been to have results pretty much instantly and get rid of big scary needles? Pretty darn mind-blowingly amazing. But alas, Ms. Holmes was in no way ready to compromise. She was a CEO alright… but not a good one. She lied. She hid. She shut down ideas that could have actually made Theranos’ technology work after all. It’s frustrating really. She just couldn’t let go of her idea of making those machines available in people’s houses and miniaturizing medical technology.

    It took me almost a week to get through this read because it’s a THICK story. It may only have 300 pages but these are PACKED with information and characters. It spans over ten years! But it was hard not to pick it up again every time I needed to put it down because it’s more than just about business and crime—there is so much drama and hope this story could easily be turned into a TV series!

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