Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is the fascinating , and infuriating, story of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that promised a host of common blood tests performed from a single drop of finger-pricked blood on a machine that you could have in your home. It is exactly the kind of pie-in-the sky idea that gets a startup funded with piles and piles of money, and Theranos definitely got piles of money. John Carreyrou is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and his work covering this company led to the discovery of massive fraud and general bad practices that eventually led to the dissolution of Theranos, altogether.

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO, is obvs. a bad person lacking any kind of moral compass. An impossibly self-obsessed, and weirdly Steve Jobs-obsessed, monster who cast aside the concepts of patient safety and fiduciary honesty to pump up the profile and funding of her company. I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you not to worry, she gets her just desserts in the end.

The story is very well-told and Carreyrou keeps up the journalistic tone even when he becomes a part of the story, as Theranos starts suing him for his reporting. Startup culture seems miserable. The fake-it-til-you-make-it mindset that was foundational to so many successful companies just doesn’t work when you’re trying to “disrupt healthcare”. “Fudging some numbers” when people’s lives are potentially at stake is fucking monstrous, no matter your valuation.

It is important to remember that there are lots of stories where the Bad Guys lose. This is one of them. It’s an an idea that could use more play nowadays, IMO.