Book Review: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

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.

John Carreyrou

If you are someone who loves to read brilliant pieces of investigative journalism, then you ought to pick Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Elizabeth Holmes, a Standford dropout, at just 19 years old, founded Theranos which promised to save lives with a single drop of blood. According to her, the machine invented by the company decreased the test time and could diagnose life-threatening diseases in its early stages. It was her fear of needles which planted this idea. She claimed that this innovative machine simplified patients’ lives by giving them accurate results without drawing more than a drop of blood in the comfort of their homes. With her ambitious persona, she captivated the attention of astute investors who were sold by her vision.

Going into this book, I hadn’t read about the Theranos scandal which shook the world. However, once I started reading, it was simply unputdownable. Carreyrou neatly describes the rise and fall of Theranos. After taking interviews of the company employees, he weaves it into an exciting story.

However, this technology, that took the medical world and Silicon Valley by storm didn’t work due to several complications. The results produced by this machine were inconsistent, and Elizabeth’s extensive claims were false. The failed results didn’t deter her as she continued roping in new investors to fund her absurd plan. It was only after a notable and conscientious work of two Theranos’ ex-employees that brought the scandal to light. Still it’s incredibly saddening to see the folks who knowingly committed this crime are doubtful to face a penalty.

Here’s a detailed account by Carreyrou about Elizabeth’s tumultuous journey as she currently faces potential jail time.

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