Bad Blood

Bad Blood

Secrets and Lies in A Silicon Valley Startup

Book - 2018
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Random House, Inc.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER •  NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY: NPR, The New York Times Book Review, Time, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post • The McKinsey Business Book of the Year
The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the one-time multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes—now the subject of the HBO documentary The Inventor—by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end.

“The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.” —Bill Gates

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. 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 $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

Baker & Taylor
"The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos--the Enron of Silicon Valley--by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end in the face of pressure and threats from the CEO and her lawyers. In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup "unicorn" promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in an early fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes's worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: the technology didn't work. For years, Holmes had been misleading investors, FDA officials, and her own employees. When Carreyrou, working at the Wall Street Journal, got a tip from a former Theranos employee and started asking questions, both Carreyrou and the Journal were threatened with lawsuits. Undaunted, the newspaper ran the first of dozens of Theranos articles in late 2015. By early 2017, the company's value was zero and Holmes faced potential legal action from the government and her investors. Here is the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a disturbing cautionary tale set amid the bold promises and gold-rush frenzy of Silicon Valley"--

& Taylor

Recounts the story behind Theranos, the medical equipment company that misled investors to believe they developed a revolutionary blood testing machine, detailing how its CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, perpetuated the lie to bolster the value of the company by billions.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781524731656
Branch Call Number: 338.7681 C233b
Characteristics: x, 339 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

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May 21, 2019

Elizabeth Holmes drank too much of Steve Job's Kool Aid by her 1984 managerial style & her halo effect.
Shuttered that her vaporware company could have done more damage.

May 17, 2019

Fans of John Carreyrou's Bad Blood will definitely want to read Nick Bilton's follow up story in Vanity Fair (April 2019). If it is possible to see Elizabeth Holmes as even more troubled than Carreyrou presents, Bolton has done so in this compelling piece. The saga continues.

May 10, 2019

This is a crazy story. A classic example of truth being stranger than fiction. It is shocking what Elizabeth Holmes got away with. This is a high interest read with a good pace.

Apr 24, 2019

When you finish reading this book, you will be mad. Mad that a young woman (Elizabeth Holmes) who had a brilliant idea - simplify blood testing - could never make it work and continuously lied to investors and merchants who wanted to jump in. Mad that the woman was an absolute control freak who tried to steer the conversation in her direction. Mad that any employee would deign to try to improve the machine, or even take up independent projects not related to the business, was seen as disloyal. Mad that otherwise smart people were lied to, including Bill Clinton and Jim Cramer. And mad that a million blood tests had to be nullified because the machine gave incorrect readings, often false negatives to the ill, but even worse false positives to people who were perfectly healthy.

When the scam was finally exposed in a series of articles in the "Wall Street Journal" written by the author of the book in 2015, many well meaning people lost billions, not the least of whom was Rupert Murdoch, who just happened to own the newspaper that ran the stories. As the book went to print, the SEC had charged the company (now officially defunct), and Holmes was facing charges as an individual. A documentary has been done on HBO and a film version is in the works (as I write this). The lesson is a well worn one - if it's too good to be true, it usually is. If people had just done their due diligence, Holmes would have been exposed as a fraud almost from the get-go. This is a story of a terrible scam that stretched out for 15 years and endangered people's lives. It should be mandatory reading for any business or law ethics course.

Apr 16, 2019

The rise and fall of Theranos is a cautionary tale about how smart money can be dumb. Overlooking clear warning signs of a vapourware product, investors and roll-out partners deceived themselves in their desire to be part of the “next big thing” in Silicon Valley and health care. The book is based on many interviews with past employees and people who had dealings with its bizarre founder. It provides a fascinating chronological story from their perspective, which perhaps benefits from hindsight. What the book lacks is any analysis of the founder’s psychology (white collar sociopath?) or of why so many people were fooled into thinking the company’s technology was possible.

JCLLisaH Mar 21, 2019

Do you ever wonder how corporate fraud starts, gets exposed, and in the aftermath how the all the players lives are affected? Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou offers such a glimpse into corporate fraud and all its ugliness.

Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, Carreyrou, exposes the wrong doings of Theranos, a medical blood-testing Silicon Valley startup company that had its beginnings in 2004 and came to an abrupt end in 2017. After receiving his first tip in February 2015, Carreyrou worked diligently to uncover the players, backgrounds, and legal intimidations that contributed to the conning of investors, employees, and patients as it related to Theranos and what their devices were and were not capable of providing in blood-testing devices. Theranos was fully exposed to the public on October 15, 2015, with the publication of Carreyrou’s first of many front page exposes in the Wall Street Journal.

This book takes the reader through a comprehensive journey starting with the idea and creation of Theranos by Elizabeth Holmes, a 19 year-old Stanford dropout. Holmes started with a great idea and tricked some of the most powerful investors in the US into investing in her company despite the blood-testing devices never accurately working. When she brings her lover, Sunny Balwani, on board as second in command, things go from bad to worse.

This book chronologically tells the entire story of Theranos from start to finish and how the company went from being worth $9 billion to $0. Carreyrou’s writing is factual and riveting. I enjoyed how by simply stating the facts and not analyzing the psyche of Holmes and Balwani, Carreyrou allows the reader to be amazed and dumbfounded on how the two top executives were able to keep this charade going for as a long as it did. I found this book to be a truly captivating read.

Mar 15, 2019

I had heard of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes at the time. I had thought the WSJ was picking on, and trying to take down Theranos. I had no idea there was fraud to this extent. And what a house of horrors to work in. Sunny Balwani sounds like a monster and Elizabeth Holmes a convincing conwoman. I am not sure if she was naïve about her product, or just doing an outright con. Great, but maddening reading.

Feb 19, 2019

NYT Notable Books of 2018

Feb 03, 2019

This book is about the tragedy of Theranos and the founder of Theranos - Elizabeth Holmes. Theranos was a company primarily founded on the idea developing technology to perform a wide range of blood tests from one drop of blood taken from a finger stick rather than the conventional blood draw venously. Eventually, the company also has ambitions to become a lab service company analyzing blood draws using its own and other commercially available instruments. Although the vision was very attractive and the founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was very attractive, it was not achievable by current technology or perhaps not ever. Therein lies the conflict. The company seems to have rooted out all employees that questioned whether the vision was attainable. The company also enlisted a board of directors that had no independent basis to assess the company's technology, products, and services. This made for disastrous outcome for customers, investors, and employees. Even those employees that quit, such as Tyler Schultz, was hounded by the aggressive legal tactics of David Boies to the tune of at least $400,000. The last part of the book is the story of the story which goes to illustrate the aggressive legal tactics of Theranos and its lawyers. After one reads the book, it is worthwhile to view the various presentations given by Elizabeth Holmes available on UTube. In hindsight it is amazing the mendacity of the CEO. Without the book, it is easy to see how non-experts in the field could be taken in by the vision, the confidence, and presentation by Elizabeth Holmes. I predict that at some point in the future, we will be seeing Elizabeth Holmes again. I wish that the author would have spent some more time on the technical barriers that make this vision not practical.

Jan 24, 2019 Customer reviews
4.8 out of 5 stars 1,402 reviews
5 stars “Impossibly too good to be true.”
How did a 20 something dropout woman manage to bs her way for a decade (!), impressing not only Secretaries of State and Defense - George Shultz, Kissinger, one of the countries top lawyers Boies and a distinguished professor of chemistry at Stanford for 10 full years!
Elizabeth Holmes and her crooked boyfriend never answered the technical questions and fired anyone who disagreed with their dishonesty - how in the world did it take so long to get out?
5 stars “Fascinating, horrifying, richly detailed account of corporate ambition gone awry.”
Couldn’t put this book down. A horrifying true story of a driven entrepreneur whose only overriding goal was to become insanely rich. And she would do anything, any unimaginable thing, to get there.

Elizabeth Holmes leveraged her family's high profile connections to draw in early investors and supporters, who weren’t very inquisitive on details, nor skeptical in nature. Drawing on the good name and reputation of these early supporters, she was able to build an impressive roster of other supporters with stellar reputations in tech and venture capital circles. Then it was just a matter of stage managing the house of cards she was building.

Her product demonstrations were outright theater, staged managed illusions worthy of David Copperfield. Theranos employees in on the ruse were assured it was just temporary, until the actual product could be perfected and the results repeatable. That day would never come. Their suspicions, proven to be correct, was that it was too good to be true.
5 stars “Would give this 10 stars"
This is a real life thriller, the story of someone who is a true diabolical movie villain. Holmes is portrayed vividly as a paranoid sociopath who could also be disarming, charmingly manipulative, utterly ruthless and devoid of conscience. This is a tale of corporate greed and lack of regulatory oversight gone all awry.

Without a trace of guilt or regret, she induced powerful tech workers to leave lucrative careers at other major tech firms, giving up millions in stock options, to come work for Theranos, knowing the whole thing would collapse one day. When skeptical board members asked to see data affirming the effectiveness of their product, Holmes would defer, saying those papers were in perpetual legal review. Some employees, when they were no longer useful to her, or deemed disloyal, were immediately and unceremoniously marched out.
5 stars “A company so corrupt it bordered on evil.”
Remember the John Grisham book "the Firm"? Exciting and suspenseful stuff, right? But couldn't really happen, could it? Well here's the real thing: Theranos. A company so corrupt it bordered on evil. Hundreds of well-meaning employees kept in check by
1. a steady diet of a charismatic leader's lies and propaganda
2. tremendous restrictions on communication within the firm
3. threats that employees would be bankrupted personally by vicious lawyers if they ever stepped out of line.
A gripping and cautionary tale about the danger of the mix of charisma and lies. I couldn't put it down.

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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.”

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.

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.

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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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


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