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Nonfiction Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Title: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Author: John Carreyrou

Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult nonfiction
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

Summary (from Amazon): In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the next Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with its breakthrough device, which performed the whole range of laboratory tests from a single drop of blood. 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 $4.5 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work. Erroneous results put patients in danger, leading to misdiagnoses and unnecessary treatments. All the while, Holmes and her partner, Sunny Balwani, worked to silence anyone who voiced misgivings—from journalists to their own employees.

Review: I read this book to discuss with my high school girlfriends group. I had heard a number of news stories about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, but the book really sets it all out in detail; the author definitely did due diligence on his research, meeting with Theranos employees, reading emails, etc.

How to describe Elizabeth Holmes, CEO.... Brilliant, savvy, driven, ground-breaking, dishonest, sneaky, dangerous. And she had everyone fooled: employees, investors, and supporters. Her investors put hundreds of millions of dollars into her company and were some super high up people (think George Schultz who seems to have been totally snowed by her right to the end). Basically, she lied about the accuracy of her machines to get more investments then lied some more.

I get it. You need investors and everyone in Silicon Valley stretches the truth to get ahead. But, as the book says, lying about software or an app is really different from lying about medical results. Her lies led to people getting unnecessary treatment, the wrong treatment, or no treatment. That is just so wrong.

This book is a pretty quick read and is super interesting, especially since Holmes is currently on trial.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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