Book Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley by John Carreyrou

by Melita Rahmalia

Bad Blood is the story of the famed Silicon Valley’s entrepreneur’s fall from grace – Elizabeth Holmes. Written by a Wall Street Journal reporter, John Carreyrou, this book shares the gaps between her claims and the reality inside her company, as witnessed by beleaguered employees.

Signs of things taking a wrong turn was first indicated by Phyllis Gardner, a Stanford Medical professor who has also been investors for other medical start-ups. When Holmes came to her to consult her ideas on what she wanted to do, she said it would not be possible yet – because of practical and technical reasons. And Holmes just flatly refused to listen. She instead dropped out of Stanford and focused on chasing her dreams.

But over the years, despite money from investors such as family and friends connections, employees kept finding red flags.

Even Silicon Valleys VC refused to invest in Theranos, the company’s name, because Holmes just never showed them the technology. Whenever potential investors ask her, how does it work, she just vaguely said, “It’s a trade secret.”

Finally, some employees decided to be whistleblowers, despite the culture of intimidation inside the company.

That’s when things took a bad turn for Theranos – really bad. By then, John Carreyrou has picked up the story and Wall Street Journal ran it.

In a way, Holmes herself contributed to the downfall because of her aggressive media and PR campaign to get the name of Theranos and her profile up and out there. It was only when Carreyrou started noticing the articles that he dug deeper.

In this book, you will go through the journey with him, unravelling Holmes’ ambitions and how he finally came to the conclusion that Holmes and Theranos are fraud.

It was a chilling reminder / cautionary tale – Holmes really believed that she is going to do what is impossible and then she just refused to accept the reality. Where do you draw the line between changing the world and being called a fraud? The line lies in actually knowing your stuff of what you’re gonna change – which is what she severely lacked.

Another striking lessons then – if you want to be a billionaire world changemaker – which has been her ambitions actually since 9 years old, the book revealed – you really better know what you are doing.

As an alternative to reading, for those who don’t like reading, or you don’t have time to read, and you really want to know about this case more, you can watch a documentary as well or listen to a podcast.

WATCH: The Inventor, an HBO documentary by director Alex Gibney

Alex Gibney interviews all the key figures on-screen.

LISTEN: The Dropout Podcast – ABC Radio by Rebecca Jarvis

In 7 episodes, ABC News Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent created, narrated, and hosted a podcast which chronicles Holmes’ story.

Photo credit: Bustle

Leave a Comment