Bad Blood

Bad Blood

Secrets and Lies in A Silicon Valley Startup

Large Print - 2018
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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.
Publisher: New York :, Random House Large Print,, 2018
Edition: First large print edition
ISBN: 9781984833631
1984833634
Branch Call Number: 338.768176 Carreyrou
Characteristics: xii, 339 pages ;,24 cm
large print, rda

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d
dixithanoop
Mar 04, 2020

The fact that I read this book indeliberately alongside another positively mind-bending book called "The CEO Next Door", which is all about the good and bad qualities of a CEO was advantageous at the least, and opportune at best! This book showcased all those qualities of Elizabeth Holmes, the prota-antagonist of the story of Theranos that the other book painted with an extremely negative coating. Bad Blood is as much about the victory of investigative journalism as much it is about the charisma and reality-distortion-field of Holmes, about the gullability of the extremely accomplished like George Schultz and Henry Kissinger in dancing to the tunes of Theranos, about the blatant fraud of Ramesh 'Sunny' Balwani, and about the plight of all those Theranos employees who had to go through this. Kudos to WSJ's two time Pulitzer winner John Carreyrou who had previously also unmasked the Medicare scandal, for fighting all the odds and coming through positive with his Theranos' bad blood test.

The book itself is written like a highly riveting thriller, as a story unfolding more dramatically in every chapter until it's game over for Holmes. I want to add that this book is MUCH MORE than the HBO documentary that's based on this. In fact, the documentary only covered the last few chapters of this book, making it seem like Theranos EVENTUALLY tried faking its technology, while in reality, the book shows with ample proof that it was broken from the day one! The firing of its early CFO Henry Mosley who had called on its bullshit way back in 2006 in a chilling scene by Holmes herself shows Theranos had a long history of fooling investors and suppressing the whistleblowers.

One of the highlights I took from this book is the sheer number of top firms/individuals that Theranos appointed to both defend itself and to boost its image! Chiat/Day (the ad agency that created the legendary 1984 Macintosh ad), Yves Behar (considered the best designer next only to Ive), David Boies (the most feared super-lawyer who had grilled Bill Gates in a landmark lawsuit), a Board that was made of legends like Larry Ellison, Dan Lucas, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz etc, the largest investor being Rupert Murdoch himself, clients being biggies like Safeway (feel sorry for Steve Burd) ann Walgreens etc were only a few of the superstars in the Theranos pavilion. Surely, with a cast like that, no movie could flop, could it? Well, only if there was no story at all in the first place!

There were some interesting things about Theranos too, to their credit. It started out as Real Cures, and to be fair, Holmes's initial patents about the nanotainers and blood testing processes did look splendid, undoubtedly. I didn't know there was a cofounder named Shounak to Theranos. At some point, it was disappointing to read about the nepotism of Sunny Balwani who had hired a bunch of Indian yes-men whose main job was to please Sunny and Elizabeth Holmes by agreeing to all their demands. That's just plain effed up.

It will be interesting if someone writes an alternate ending story to the Theranos saga, where, after all the struggles and skepticism raised by all the opposers, Theranos succeeded with their Edison and changed the world forever for the good. Also, the book could be part of a series, as there are many such companies in the Silicon Valley that over-promise, over-raise, over-expand, and then try to fake it than make it. Wework and Clinkle are the two that come to my mind immediately, but I'm sure there are many more.

Overall, the book was an unputdownable read. I just wanted a better cover for the book, though, where the two Os of BlOOd were splattered blood drops ;)

t
tjdickey
Mar 04, 2020

It had been such a Cinderella story - the youngest female billionaire, whose tech start-up was going to revolutionize healthcare. Theranos had vocal support from Stanford profs, Silcon Valley royalty, and Cabinet officials (George Shultz, Jim Maddis, Henry Kissinger, Hilary Clinton) alike, but the company cut corners when it couldn't deliver. The story as told deeply by the investigative reporter who broke it, and definitely reads like a thriller!

ArapahoeJulia Feb 28, 2020

A gripping true story about a start-up gone wrong, and about how the power of influence may sustain an idea longer than is warranted.

v
ValinOR14
Feb 26, 2020

"A false positive might cause a patient to have an unnecessary medical procedure. But a false negative was worse: a patient with a serious condition that went undiagnosed could die."

I definitely don't think Elizabeth Holmes set out to commit fraud, but when she was told her technology was flawed, why didn't she listen?? Especially once she knew she was putting patient's lives at stake! She was a 19-year-old college dropout who knew absolutely nothing about blood science!! I still don't understand how she could care about no one, except herself. Such a narcissist.

It's a bit of a dark book. I found myself so angry and frustrated by what I was reading. Thank goodness for the comic relief provided by Elizabeth's wacko boyfriend, who was helping her run Theranos. Sunny had a habit of repeating technical terms others were using. At one meeting the engineers were discussing "end effector" but Sunny thought they had said "endofactor." At the next meeting, the engineers had a power-point presentation called "Endofactors Update." Sunny just nodded his head in approval. I needed that chuckle!

I will be following the trial in August and hoping they (forgive the pun) throw the book at her!

m
msdelrios
Feb 09, 2020

Feb. 2020

t
TimbitOfColumbus
Feb 03, 2020

Four words: Commit to the bit.

d
duckcalldan
Jan 29, 2020

Bill Gates’ favorite book of 2018. A true-life thriller with a tragic ending, of a startup whose product didn’t work.

BPLpicks Jan 09, 2020

In this compelling work of investigative journalism, we learn the details of story that proves truth can be stranger than fiction. Readers follow the tale of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of a blood analysis company Theranos in 2003. She used her drive and charisma to pitch a new technology and received a small fortune in funding from the elite of Silicon Valley community. Everything seems to be going great except for one small detail—the technology does not work. Rather than admit her failure and abandon her goals, Holmes goes down a slippery slope of deception and paranoia to keep the company going. This glimpse behind the scenes of a doomed startup allows readers to see the impact of one journalist’s hunch that brought down a company.

c
chascalz
Jan 04, 2020

Great book 5 stars . A courageous journalist.
I missed the Eliz. Holmes story originally -no TV, so it was all new to me.

Amazing to see how certain companies operate- high-powered Board, Kissinger, Mathis, and vicious legal tactics by Boies firm, trying to intimidate and scare whistle-blowers with expensive lawsuits that could crush them .

Another scary thought is most of the mainstream media were like pack-journalists, creating an image of a person, Elizabeth Holmes and her company , that was false and fake-news.

The refusal by the magazine's owner to kill the story , even though he was a major investor in Holmes' company was impressive to me.

k
kwsmith
Dec 29, 2019

When she was just 19 years old, Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford university and leveraged her family's "old money" connections to start Theranos, a Silicon Valley company that could revolutionize the blood diagnostic industry. Within a decade, her Silicon Valley startup employed over 800 people and was valued at over nine billion dollars. She forged bold partnerships with the US military and with popular drug store Walgreens; many Americans had their blood tested by Elizabeth Holmes' company. The huge problem was that none of her revolutionary blood testing technology actually worked. Written by an experienced investigative journalist, this amazing book goes behind the scenes with former Theranos employees and gives us the inside scoop. From my own work experience, I recognized many of the archetypal characters in the Theranos story, but was still completely amazed to see this tragic story unfold.

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j
jimg2000
Jun 07, 2018

Elizabeth had hung inspirational quotes in little frames around the old Facebook building. One of them was from Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Another was from Theodore Roosevelt: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Patrick suggested they make them a more integral part of the workplace by painting them in black on the building’s white walls. Elizabeth liked the idea.

She also loved a new quote he suggested. It was from Yoda in Star Wars: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

j
jimg2000
Jun 07, 2018

The media mogul sold his stock back to Theranos for one dollar so he could claim a big tax write-off on his other earnings. With a fortune estimated at $12 billion, Murdoch could afford to lose more than $100 million on a bad investment.
===
“VAPORWARE” was coined in the early 1980s to describe new computer software or hardware that was announced with great fanfare only to take years to materialize, if it did at all. It was a reflection of the computer industry’s tendency to play it fast and loose when it came to marketing. Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle were all accused of engaging in the practice at one point or another. Such overpromising became a defining feature of Silicon Valley. The harm done to consumers was minor, measured in frustration and deflated expectations. By positioning Theranos as a tech company in the heart of the Valley, Holmes channeled this fake-it-until-you-make-it culture, and she went to extreme lengths to hide the fakery.

j
jimg2000
Jun 07, 2018

The odd couple:

It isn’t clear exactly when Elizabeth (Elizabeth Anne Holmes born 1984) and Sunny (Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani born 1966) became romantically involved, but it appears to have been not long after she dropped out of Stanford. When they’d first met in China in the summer of 2002, Sunny was married to a Japanese artist named Keiko Fujimoto and living in San Francisco. By October 2004, he was listed as “a single man” on the deed to a condominium he purchased on Channing Avenue in Palo Alto. Other public records show Elizabeth moved into that apartment in July 2005.
===
FoMO—the fear of missing out.

j
jimg2000
Jun 07, 2018

From Epilogue:

March 14, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Theranos, Holmes, and Balwani with conducting “an elaborate, years-long fraud.” To resolve the agency’s civil charges, Holmes was forced to relinquish her voting control over the company, give back a big chunk of her stock, and pay a $500,000 penalty. She also agreed to be barred from being an officer or director in a public company for ten years. Unable to reach a settlement with Balwani, the SEC sued him in federal court in California. In the meantime, the criminal investigation continued to gather steam. As of this writing, criminal indictments of both Holmes and Balwani on charges of lying to investors and federal officials seem a distinct possibility.

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j
jimg2000
Jun 07, 2018

High-profile investors who lost the most money on Theranos per WSJ (in $Millions):

Walton Family: 150
Rupert Murdoch: 121
Betsy DeVos: 100
Cox Family 100
Carlos Slim 30

https://www.wsj.com/articles/theranos-cost-business-and-government-leaders-more-than-600-million-1525392082

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