Title: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Author: John Carreyrou
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Date published: May 21st 2018
Page Count: 339
The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of a multibillion-dollar startup, 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 a 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.
It was shocking to see how much deception and manipulation was committed to result in Theranos success. It seems impossible to trick so many people into investing. After reading the book, I’m literally shook at how Theranos managed to last for over a decade.
The book really pulls you into the depths of Elizabeth Holme’s lies and deception and the measures she took to make Theranos thrive for so long. What was more shocking was the toxic work place that was conceived at Theranos. The restrictive work environment, constant monitoring, and prevalent mistrust between the management and its workers had led to high turnovers and stressful working situations that made it impossible for productivity to improve. It was horrifying learning how not only investors were swindled out of their money, but also realizing that talented workers were being lured from Google and Facebook to work at a so-called revolutionizing company that was really built on lies and manipulation.
The fact that the company managed to survive for so long was shocking, and was what got me captivated at first while reading. However, it eventually got repetitive halfway through the novel, and I sort of lost interest. I guess it really spoke to what happened in the company, the turnover rate was insanely high and as a result, is was just one story after another of workers handing in letters of resignation, being dismissed by the company, or having to face a lawsuit from Elizabeth Holmes herself.
I didn’t finished the book, though I will definitely check out the documentary when it comes out.