Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

TitleBad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
AuthorJohn Carreyrou
Copyright2018, 2020, (Afterword copyright 2021)
TypeNon Fiction
Length353 Pages
Notable InfoAmazon: 4.7 Stars with 39,441 ratings
New York Post list of 28 most unforgettable books of 2018
NPR’s Guide to 2018 Great Reads
New York Times Book Review: one of the 100 Notable Books of 2018
Finished Reading May 12, 2023

When a young girl, Elizabeth Holmes told her parents she wanted to be rich. She dropped out of Stanford when she thought she had the idea to achieve her goal. She started a company called Theranos that planned, then promised to perform a myriad of blood tests on just a drop of blood instead of the viles commonly used. Withe her personal and business partner Sunny Bulwani she achieved her dream – for a while – through well-connected investors, political connections, outright lies and ruthless attacks on anyone who asked questions. John Carreyrou’s Wall Street Journal exposé brought the house of cards tumbling down. As of this writing she is in prison.

Holmes set up Theranos so every department reported to her and discussion between groups was actively discouraged. While hampering development of the devices the structure also served to  keep employees in the dark about the true state of the company. When the Chief Financial Officer started asking questions Holmes and Bulwani blackmailed him. 

Tyler Schultz is the hero of the story; he was an employee who stood up to Elzabeth and Sunny’s bullying and shared what he knew with John Carrerou.Theranos had the high profile team of Boies Schiller as their legal counsel. In an effort to protect the company and the investors they 

“resorted to bare-knuckle tactics [they] had become notorious for. [Attorney] Brille let it be known that if Tyler didn’t sigh the affidavit and name the [Wall Street] Journal’s sources, the firm would make sure to bankrupt his entire family when it took him to court.”

Page 247

Instead of trying to prove their point in court, Boies Schiller and Theranos were willing to bankrupt a family through antagonistic litigation. Tyler’s grandfather, the famous politician (and Theranos investor) George Schultz lined up on Theranos’ side TWICE when Tyler tried to tell him the truth about the company.

John Carreyrou took Tyler’s concerns and ran with them; he does a wonderful outlining the details and timeline of the story. It reads like a true crime story – which it is. The stakes were much higher than the typical high-tech startup; the failures of the systems Theranos built had direct impact on patients’ lives. Over one million blood tests had to be tossed out once light was shined in the corners.

If you read this pick up the latest edition with the 2021 Afterword talking about the sentencing.

EDIT 8/28/2023: Fixed authors last name

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