Bad Blood: Fraud in Silicon Valley

Bad Blood cover

Book Cover Copyright Alfred A. Knopf

Bad Blood is a nonfiction book about a Silicon Valley company called Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes.  Holmes was a young billionaire and her company promised to revolutionize the medical industry in general and blood testing to be specific by running dozens of blood tests from a very small sample of blood. It was a great idea and Holmes was compared to Steve Jobs. The company had a star-studded board of directors, but none from a medical background.

However, the company’s technology did not work.

This is an interesting story.  The author of the book, John Carreyrou, worked for the Wall Street Journal at the time and his newspaper played a part in promoting Holmes and her company in an editorial/interview It could have been a little awkward for the paper to promote/endorse Holmes and her company at one time but then later do an expose on her and her company.  Things like that had happened before, but the interview/features area of the paper was separate from the reporting part (Carreyou did not do the interview, another writer did). This could have made it more difficult for the paper to get feature interviews, but the Wall Street Journal management valued the stories enough to take the risk.

Also, Rupert Murdoch owned the Wall Street Journal and he invested in Theranos. He was one of the largest individual investors in Theranos.  The company fought the Wall Street Journal and its reporter over its stories. At one point, the company asked Murdoch to intercede, but he did not.

I found the book interesting. Former company employees were sources for the book and the Wall Street Journal stories. What happened at Theranos makes this nonfiction book a page turner, possibly even a scary one. There was at times a high rate of firings/new hirings or sudden/unexplained firings, and a massive emphasis on secrecy that some employees later called counterproductive.

You can check out Bad Blood and get all the dirt on this fascinating story on McAllen Public Library’s Libby app.


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