Friday, November 30, 2018

Book Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (audio)

I don't know that I would have picked up this book except that a friend at HarperCollins asked if my friend at Random House could get her a copy. That intrigued me, plus I felt guilty for giving my copy away, and as I like nonfiction on audio and true crime in particular of late, I figured I'd give this a try. I ended up listening to the entire thing in about 2 days.

Elizabeth Holmes was a 20-year-old college dropout when she founded Theranos. Her goal was to be able to process dozens and eventually hundreds of tests on a single drop of blood in a small machine in people's homes. Admirable goal. But for someone with no background in medicine and very little in engineering, when she hit roadblocks along the way, she simply lied. Eventually the Silicon Valley-startup became one of the most highly valued companies in the world, but it was built on sand. Despite NDAs, legal threats, and intimidation, eventually several whistleblowers came forward to The Wall Street Journal's John Carreyrou who exposed the whole swindle.

Don't worry about medical jargon in this story--there's very little of it and it's explained very well. This reads like a legal thriller, hearkening me back to A Civil Action. Mr. Carreyrou really did his research and knows his stuff. And luckily for all of us, he and the WSJ have balls of steel to withstand Theranos's and Ms. Holmes's onslaught of legal scare tactics and bring us this story. It's pretty crazy how this company skyrocketed and then fell to earth, a modern-day Icarus.

I listened to this audiobook on Libby/Overdrive, via my public library.

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