170. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

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Reading books on Silicon Valley or tech start-ups is starting to become a guilty pleasure. I really enjoy tech/business literature and if you like me enjoy it too, check out this list that I made of some great non-fictions reads a while ago. click here.

When Bad Blood by John Carreyrou came out last year, I couldn’t wait to read it, as the story was too good to pass up.

Bad Blood chronicles the rise and fall of the healthcare startup: Theranos, that is now defunct, and the founders are facing criminal charges from the SEC in US. The founder: Elizabeth Holmes was touted as the next Steve Jobs, and to make sure the comparison became popularized she dressed and talked like him as well.

The device they were trying to make, sell and revolutionize the healthcare system with, consisted of a blood testing device that could diagnose things like cancer, diabetes, sugar etc through a prick of blood. Blood testing involves biochemistry and the type of tests are called immunoassays, for which you need a syringe of blood.

Theranos’s claim of conducting all immunoassays through a prick of blood, would undoubtedly disrupt the medical world. Plus they aimed at providing their devices in every household, making it easier for patients to get their tests done at the comfort of their homes, and find the results soon after.

There was just one catch: their devices didn’t work, and the technology was faulty!

That didn’t stop Holmes from fooling investors to gather more funding, creating fake results to show to potential buyers, actually deploying faulty devices that weren’t novel or patent (just a bunch of machinery available on the market) and deploying it for a pilot launch in Walgreens stores in Arizona.

Not only did she fool Silicon investors and venture capitalists who’ve been funding and investing in the valley’s unicorns for decades, but she even managed to hoodwink government officials including Republican George Shultz, officials at United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defence, Bill Clinton, and a whole party of old white dudes who think they know better, but actually are ruining the earth and the environment for their political and economic gains.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent over there. But you get it right? Not that climate change isn’t real and corporations and bad government policies are the only culprits, but that Theranos was a big fraud.

Reading Bad Blood by John Carreyrou, made me tingle with thrill and anger. This book is nothing short of a conspiracy theory that actually isn’t a conspiracy theory. It reads like a thriller. The CIA level security checks kept on employees, and massive firings for not believing in Theranos gives cult vibes, and the almost psychopathic founder, is nothing short of mind-boggling fiction, in the form of a real story.

I wasn’t bored at any point, and I honestly wanted to know what happens next. Personally, I’ve been following the rise and fall of Theranos before the book came out. Reading Bad Blood left me dumbfounded, how despite making devices and using unethical practices that could’ve put people with serious illnesses and cancers at risk, the founders are only facing criminal charges for wire fraud.

Basically they’re only being charged for wasting the money of their investors. Not how they were creating unethical and physically harming technology that actually was deployed to real life humans.

The entire story of Theranos and the founder: Elizabeth Holmes makes you rethink all the hype and fanfare around tech giants. It makes you wonder why there aren’t any regulations in place? How can companies and people with no higher education( Holmes dropped out of Stanford to pursue Theranos) can play with data just like that?

Written with exceptional story telling, details, and facts Bad Blood by John Carreyrou is a fantastic, non fiction book. You actually wish he wasn’t an investigative journalist at the Wall Street Journal, and a crime fiction novelist, because it scares you for a minute that Bad Blood isn’t just a quirky title for evil capitalists gone eccentric, but an actual, real life story!

Onto the basics:

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Reader level: there is technical lingo regarding biochemistry and tech start-ups, however the author does his best to explain it.

Should you read it: if you enjoy reading about the Silicon Valley, then this book is for you!!

Would I read it again: Not sure that I will. A good one time read.

Till next time,




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