This book is hard to believe. I don't mean that I don't believe the story - I mean it's just so, so difficult to believe that so many smart people were fooled by a product that simply never worked.
This is the story of the spectacular rise and fall of a silicon valley startup that was going to change the world. Theranos was the brainchild of Elizabeth Holmes a twenty-something wunderkind. Its main product was going to revolutionize blood testing by doing away with nasty big needles and use a tiny drop of blood to perform hundreds of medical tests. It's a great idea - a shame it never got close to working.
With her wide blue eyes and unexpectedly deep voice, she bamboozled everyone. Carreyyou tells the long sordid tale, interviewing scared Theranos workers, doctors trying to use their products, and even distraught patients. But there is very little analysis. At the end of the book we still don't know how board members like George Schulz and Henry Kissinger (both previous US secretarys of state, successful business men and diplomats), and top investor Rupert Murdoch (super smart media mogul), and many other similarly accomplished men all invested literally hundreds of millions of dollars into this enterprise - without ever seeing anything remotely like a properly working machine. Entire boards of huge companies (such as Walgreens and Safeway) totally supported her project, and started the roll-out of defective devices in their stores. On top of all that, many doctors quickly saw that the results of the Theranos tests were wrong. But the caravan continued to roll on... people continued to invest vast amounts of money... business institutions continued to heap praise and awards on Ms Holmes. It is just crazy...It's not enough to just say Holmes had charisma and charm. There must be more to it than that. People really wanted it all to be true.
The book's release is somewhat premature. At the time of publication, Theranos was still a working company, although its workforce has been reduced from a spectacular 800 to a mere couple of dozen, and the law suites and investigations have a long way to go. We still don't know what penalties are going to be handed out to Holmes (and her shady co-conspirator, Sunny Balwani), if any, for their monstrous fraud.
The story is told in competent, if somewhat pedestrian style. The facts are there, but the person at the centre of the book, Elizabeth Holmes, remains a mystery. Was she just an extraordinarily gifted charlatan? Or a psychopath, having no empathy at all with the thousands of people she was harming? Even after her company has collapsed, she seems to show no contrition or even understanding of what she has done. Perhaps it will take another book to explain the psychology behind Holmes and those who fell under her spell.
You will not be able to put this down. -- Top tech book releases in 2018 * Evening Standard * Carreyrou tells the full, gripping tale of how he slayed the "unicorn" in a fascinating look at how buzz and billions can blind people to facts. -- `Best Books of 2018' * Marie Claire * [Holmes') story is a parable about Silicon Valley delusion, but the gossipy fun comes from seeing which high-profile man (James Mattis, Joe Biden) gets drawn into Holmes' scammy web next. -- `Best Books of 2018' * ELLE * A beautifully controlled narrative that challenges the gold-rush mentality of Silicon Valley. -- Lionel Barber, Editor of the FT, 'Books of the Year 2018' * Financial Times * Engaging * The Economist * Bad Blood reveals a crucial truth: outside observers must act as the eyes, the ears and, most importantly, the voice of Silicon Valley's blind spot . . . It gambled not with our smart phones, our attention or our democracy, but with people's lives. * Paste * Simply one of the best books about a startup ever. * Forbes * Gripping . . . It is a parable, with all the usual, delicious ingredients of human folly: greed, pride, vanity, lust, anger. Above all, it is an analysis of the phenomenon of hype. * Daily Telegraph * Gripping . . . Carreyrou presents the scientific, human, legal and social sides of the story in full . . . He unveils many dark secrets of Theranos that have not previously been laid bare. * Nature * In this Silicon Valley drama, he opens his reporter's notebook to deliver a tale of corporate fraud and legal browbeating that reads like a crime thriller. -- The 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2018 * TIME * Carreyrou tells the story virtually to perfection . . . Bad Blood reads like a West Coast version of All the President's Men. * New York Times * If you're looking for an engaging non-fiction read, look no further than Bad Blood . . . a pacy, compelling narrative about white-collar crime that's as incredible as any work of fiction. * Irish Times * I couldn't put down this thriller with a tragic ending . . . a book so compelling that I couldn't turn away . . . 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 . . . No wonder Hollywood is already planning to turn it into a movie. -- Bill Gates, '5 books I loved in 2018' Riveting . . . a blistering critique of Silicon Valley, a kind of nonfiction corollary to Dave Eggers's The Circle . . . compelling . . . [Carreyrou's] unmasking of Theranos is a tale of David and Goliath . . . The real heroes, though, are his sources: the young scientists who worked at the company and risked their reputations and careers by voicing their concerns. Were it not for their courage, Theranos might still be testing blood today -- David Crow * Financial Times * A dazzling story of deception in Silicon Valley . . . It is a tale of heroic cupidity on a scale that made the very best and the very brightest look like the very, very foolish . . . You will not be able to put this book down. * Washington Post *
The shocking true story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a gripping cautionary tale set amid the bold promises and gold-rush frenzy of Silicon Valley.