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Bad Blood
Cover of Bad Blood
Bad Blood
Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The gripping story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos—one of the biggest corporate frauds in history—a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises...
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The gripping story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos—one of the biggest corporate frauds in history—a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises...
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  • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The gripping story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranosone of the biggest corporate frauds in history—a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley, rigorously reported by the prize-winning journalist. With a new Afterword.
    “Chilling ... Reads like a thriller ... Carreyrou tells [the Theranos story] virtually to perfection.” —The New York Times Book Review


    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.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Prologue

    November 17, 2006


    Tim Kemp had good news for his team.

    The former IBM executive was in charge of bioinformatics at Theranos, a startup with a cutting-edge blood-testing system. The company had just completed its first big live demonstration for a pharmaceutical company. Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos's twenty-two-year-old founder, had flown to Switzerland and shown off the system's capabilities to executives at Novartis, the European drug giant.

    "Elizabeth called me this morning," Kemp wrote in an email to his fifteen-person team. "She expressed her thanks and said that, 'it was perfect!' She specifically asked me to thank you and let you all know her appreciation. She additionally mentioned that Novartis was so impressed that they have asked for a proposal and have expressed interest in a financial arrangement for a project. We did what we came to do!"

    This was a pivotal moment for Theranos. The three-year-old startup had progressed from an ambitious idea Holmes had dreamed up in her Stanford dorm room to an actual product a huge multinational corporation was interested in using.

    Word of the demo's success made its way upstairs to the second floor, where senior executives' offices were located.

    One of those executives was Henry Mosley, Theranos's chief financial officer. Mosley had joined Theranos eight months earlier, in March 2006. A rumpled dresser with piercing green eyes and a laid-back personality, he was a veteran of Silicon Valley's technology scene. After growing up in the Washington, D.C. area and getting his MBA at the University of Utah, he'd come out to California in the late 1970s and never left. His first job was at chipmaker Intel, one of the Valley's pioneers. He'd later gone on to run the finance departments of four different tech companies, taking two of them public. Theranos was far from his first rodeo.

    What had drawn Mosley to Theranos was the talent and experience gathered around Elizabeth. She might be young, but she was surrounded by an all-star cast. The chairman of her board was Donald L. Lucas, the venture capitalist who had groomed billionaire software entrepreneur Larry Ellison and helped him take Oracle Corporation public in the mid-1980s. Lucas and Ellison had both put some of their own money into Theranos.

    Another board member with a sterling reputation was Channing Robertson, the associate dean of Stanford's School of Engineering. Robertson was one of the stars of the Stanford faculty. His expert testimony about the addictive properties of cigarettes had forced the tobacco industry to enter into a landmark $6.5 billion settlement with the state of Minnesota in the late 1990s. Based on the few interactions Mosley had had with him, it was clear Robertson thought the world of Elizabeth.

    Theranos also had a strong management team. Kemp had spent thirty years at IBM. Diane Parks, Theranos's chief commercial officer, had twenty-five years of experience at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. John Howard, the senior vice president for products, had overseen Panasonic's chip-making subsidiary. It wasn't often that you found executives of that caliber at a small startup.

    It wasn't just the board and the executive team that had sold Mosley on Theranos, though. The market it was going after was huge. Pharmaceutical companies spent tens of billions of dollars on clinical trials to test new drugs each year. If Theranos could make itself indispensable to them and capture a fraction of that spending, it could make a killing.

    Elizabeth had asked him to put together some financial projections she could show investors. The first set of...

About the Author-

  • John Carreyrou is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal. For his extensive coverage of Theranos, Carreyrou was awarded the George Polk Award for Financial Reporting, the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in the category of beat reporting, and the Barlett & Steele Silver Award for Investigative Business Journalism. Carreyrou lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 14, 2018
    An apparent scientific breakthrough rests on a quicksand of deception in this riveting account of the rise and downfall of notorious biotech firm Theranos. Expanding on his award-winning investigative scoops, Pulitzer-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Carreyrou recounts how Elizabeth Holmes, a charismatic Stanford dropout, started Theranos with claims of a revolutionary blood-testing technology that needed just a few drops from a finger-prick rather than tubefulls drawn from veins with needles. Her start-up became the toast of Silicon Valley, with a $9 billion valuation and a board including former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. The reality, he reports, was less stellar: the company’s flawed tests did not meet regulatory standards and gave dangerously inaccurate results, investors and journalists were snowed with fake demos, and Holmes and her second-in-command (and boyfriend), Sunny Balwani, dismissed employees’ concerns and drove many out with verbal abuse and computer surveillance. The author’s investigation is part of the story: as he pursues the truth, Theranos’s attorneys, led by Bush v. Gore lawyer David Boies, intimidate his sources with lawsuit threats. In the end it is Holmes who is targeted with a lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission for “an elaborate, years-long fraud” and forced to relinquish voting control over the company and pay a six-figure penalty. Carreyrou blends lucid descriptions of Theranos’s technology and its failures with a vivid portrait of its toxic culture and its supporters’ delusional boosterism. The result is a bracing cautionary tale about visionary entrepreneurship gone very wrong. Agent: Eric Lupfer, Fletcher & Company.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2018
    A deep investigative report on the sensationalistic downfall of multibillion-dollar Silicon Valley biotech startup Theranos.Basing his findings on hundreds of interviews with people inside and outside the company, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Carreyrou rigorously examines the seamy details behind the demise of Theranos and its creator, Elizabeth Holmes. Founded in 2003, when Holmes was just 19, the company's claim to "fame" was its revolutionary blood-testing system, which touted the detection of everything from high cholesterol to hepatitis C to cancer using only one drop of blood. While raising $9 billion through a series of aggressive (and falsified) claims and dozens of private investors, the company's spiking net worth caught Carreyrou's attention a few years ago. His eye-opening reporting on the company's inaccurate, voided, or corrected test results, as well as the loss of major retail partnerships with Walgreens and Safeway, knocked Theranos off the tech radar and left it irreversibly devastated. The author glosses over Holmes' history as an unpopular high schooler and, later, Stanford dropout, focusing on her early vision of the specialized blood-reading equipment, the rapid evolution of Theranos, and the early skepticism about the device's efficacy and reliability. The well-integrated employee profiles and testimonies effectively support Carreyrou's damning narrative and discredit Holmes as a power-hungry, avaricious young leader who courted venture capitalists with specious claims. Former Theranos employees paint Holmes as an increasingly tyrannical leader who demanded allegiance and who swiftly terminated those who she felt fell short of ultimate loyalty. The author brilliantly captures the interpersonal melodrama, hidden agendas, gross misrepresentations, nepotism, and a host of delusions and lies that further fractured the company's reputation and halted its rise. More recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission slapped Theranos and Holmes with fraud charges, though she still touts her device as having improved accuracy and importance.Already slated for feature film treatment, Carreyrou's exposé is a vivid, cinematic portrayal of serpentine Silicon Valley corruption.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    June 15, 2018

    Carreyrou's clearly written and accessible work can be compared to another outstanding business exposé, James B. Stewart's Den of Thieves--both are by Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporters, both are based on deep investigative reporting, and both provide riveting accounts of business greed and fraud. In March 2018, Elizabeth Holmes and the health technology company Theranos settled SEC civil fraud charges by Holmes divesting control of the business and paying a large fine. Her former partner's case is pending. This work demonstrates how Holmes founded Theranos while in school at Stanford to provide a revolutionary blood-monitoring device using minimal blood. Holmes aspired to be like Steve Jobs, copying his dress and managerial style. She charmed and cajoled wealthy and powerful mentors who helped her raise millions. Inside the company, she and her partner terrorized highly skilled employees who were fired when they could not deliver quick results to match her promises. To stave off questions, the company believed it could "fake-it-until-you-make-it," a Silicon Valley flaw, per Carreyrou. Using aggressive tactics and pit bull attorneys, Theranos squelched dissent and threatened the author. VERDICT Highly recommended for all collections.--Harry Charles, St. Louis

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 1, 2018
    Stories of corporate fraud and malfeasance are so ubiquitous as to barely raise an eyebrow, so the shock-and-awe media coverage surrounding the charges of massive fraud against Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes indicated a story of nearly unprecedented significance. A teenage Stanford dropout when she patented her idea for developing portable devices to administer comprehensive tests using only a single drop of blood, Holmes had a meteoric rise in Silicon Valley. She was acknowledged as the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world, helped in large part by her doe-eyed, husky-voiced charisma that attracted the likes of former secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger and current secretary of defense James Mattis to her board of directors. Yet the company's purported capabilities and successes were shams, created by Holmes' unwavering but deluded belief in her thesis and reinforced by a workplace run on intimidation, fear, and paranoia. It would take the dauntless efforts of Wall Street Journal reporter Carreyrou to expose Holmes for the charlatan she was. Crime thriller authors have nothing on Carreyrou's exquisite sense of suspenseful pacing and multifaceted character development in this riveting, read-in-one-sitting tour de force. Investigative journalists are perhaps the country's last true protectors of truth and justice, and Carreyrou's commitment to unraveling Holmes' crimes has been literally of life-saving value.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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