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Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  193,396 ratings  ·  17,441 reviews
The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of a multibillion-dollar startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end in the face of pressure and threats from the CEO and her lawyers.

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout w
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published May 21st 2018 by Knopf Publishing Group
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TC Not really. Holmes did not answer requests for an interview. She remains mysterious as a person. The conjecture is she was simply high on herself. Som…moreNot really. Holmes did not answer requests for an interview. She remains mysterious as a person. The conjecture is she was simply high on herself. Some think her lover and business partner Sunny Balwani manipulated her as a young ingenue, but this book firmly rejects that, pointing out that she was manipulating people all the way back in college. (I thought that was before she'd met him but apparently they'd met while she was still in high school. Still, there's not much evidence she was ever under his influence; clearly at best they were equals, and at worst he was under hers, based on her observed behavior.)

EDIT: I should also point out that this book says she was mentored by Silicon Valley's "best," including Larry Ellison, who is a textbook example of the amoral, at-all-cost "entrepreneur" the area is so famous for. Maybe she started out genuine but perhaps the culture of the Valley corrupted her, making her believe that the ends justified the means and that the most important thing wasn't to deliver value, but to secure yet more funding, and hire the best lawyers to destroy anyone who came in her way. Her story really isn't that different from a lot of Silicon Valley; hers is just worse because of the size and scope, and because she was in a highly regulated space for once, whereas most operate in free-wheeling tech that has almost no rules.

It's all conjecture and speculation, tho. Even when/if she writes her own book, I doubt it will give any valuable insight, just more spin. Nothing short of an independent psychiatric eval will give us a glimmer of what might really have happened.(less)
Crystal Chow Therano is mentioned explicitly in the description of the book so I don't think the choice of title has anything to do with legal issues. The point is…moreTherano is mentioned explicitly in the description of the book so I don't think the choice of title has anything to do with legal issues. The point is that Theranos isn't simply an outlier in the Silicon Valley but an epitome of the often overhyped startup culture that idolizes entrepreneurs and self-made billionaires. (less)

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Bill Gates
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don’t read a lot of page turners. I often find myself unable to put a book down—but they’re not the kinds of books that would keep most people glued to their chairs. Still, I recently found myself reading a book so compelling that I couldn’t turn away.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou details the rise and fall of Theranos. If you aren’t familiar with the Theranos story, here’s the short version: the company promised to quickly give you a complete picture
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating accounting of the Theranos scam and I do mean SCAM. Exhaustively reported. I do wish there had been more analysis of how a scam of this magnitude was made possible and enabled. This girl dropped out of college and convinced Henry Kissinger, George Schulz, Rupert Murdoch and a bunch of other famous and/or incredibly talented people to give her money or work with her even though there was no there, there. WHAT? There are so many incredible WTF moments. Just wow. Privilege is a hell of ...more
Michael Perkins
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"The resignations infuriated Elizabeth and Sunny. The following day, they summoned the staff for an all-hands meeting in the cafeteria. Copies of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho had been placed on every chair. Elizabeth told the gathered employees that she was building a religion. If there was anyone not prepared to show complete devotion and unmitigated loyalty to the company they should “get the fuck out.”

The Steve Jobs Syndrome

I have covered Silicon Valley as a journalist and author for three d
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, startups
Tips on how to make an unicorn:
- Be a sociopath
- Excel at sales&marketing
- Get some cool people on your Board

Tips to how to fake it till you make it?
- Hire a lot of lawyers
- Intimidate all your employees
- Pretend that you are a vocal proponent of a cause that you are actually against

How to make it as a woman in the tech world?
- Baritone
- Intese staring

What can fuck up your amazing future as a tech billionaire?
- Facts and data :(

I love any story that shows how sales&marketing can change the worl
Always Pouting
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last night when I finished this I just wanted to write a review that was haha repeated like four hundred times. I've gotten some sleep since then and calmed down though. This was really good, like I stayed up until 3 am reading because I didn't want to put it down good. Most I'm just befuddled that this happened at all and at the fact that most of the people implicated in this are just probably never going to face any repercussions. I don't even necessarily mean legal repercussions but like just ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou is a 2018 Knopf Publishing Group publication.

‘Super high turnover rate means you’re never bored at work.
Also good if you’re an introvert because each shift is short-staffed. Especially if you’re swing or graveyard. You essentially don’t exist to the company.
Why be bothered with lab coats and safety goggles? You don’t need to use PPE at all. Who cares if you catch something like HIV or Syphilis? This company sure doesn’t!
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Madalyn (Novel Ink)
This was fucking BANANAS.
The True Cost of Idealism

I have been guilty of the grave fault of idealism in much of my professional life. Consequently I cringe when I read of the young Elizabeth Holmes and her idealistic trajectory from the thrilling emotionally-laden launch of Theranos, which promised a breakthrough in medical technology, to its ignominious destruction as a fraudulent scam. In her I see myself - not in her level of talent or her self-confidence but in her profound self-delusion. It is this self-delusion whi
Andrew Garvin
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Early in my career I worked at a next-generation sequencing startup with Theranos-level ambitions. In fact, it went further. The founders’ mission was to cure aging. Literally, the goal was immortality.

There were other similarities: The company was founded by wunderkinds, they won the attention and support of a prominent professor in the field, they dropped out and raised millions of dollars from non-hard tech investors off the back of a concept, then tens of millions of dollars off the back of
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of exposés
Lessons learned:

1. Elizabeth Holmes speaks in an unusually deep voice.
2. What matters is who you know. If you look good and have the right connections, you can get millions of dollars for your imaginary device, particularly if you model it on the iPhone and dress like Steve Jobs.
3. Even very rich people can be stupid with money.
4. Sometimes the people that aren’t stupid are only supporting you for the money.

Rather outside my normal genres of mystery, sci-fi and fantasy, Bad Blood intrigued me bo
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
HOLY COW. I followed the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos story slightly but this book does such a fantastic job of showing how completely banana pants this situation was.

This was also great on audio, and so addictive that I started making up chores I could do just so I could keep listening.

Watch me discuss this book in my July wrap up:
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2019-reads
How does a woman who was once lauded as the youngest self-made female billionaire find herself now broke and charged with fraud? Her face was on the cover of many financial magazines as the golden girl of Silicon Valley, the female Steve Jobs. In her black turtlenecks, she even dressed like Jobs.

Elizabeth Holmes had an idea for a medical device that used breakthrough technology that could provide lab results from a simple finger prick and a minuscule drop of blood, and thereby revolutionize the
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
“Bad Blood” details the fascinating journey of a brilliant, soulless, young entrepreneur in pursuit of riches and fame. The story has heroes and villains, twisting and turning subplots, political intrigue and -even while we know the eventual outcome- plenty of surprises. It has all the elements of a good fictional thriller, but what makes this story most shocking and intriguing -- is the fact that it really happened. The details in this book will leave you shaking in your boots when you realize ...more
Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

Elizabeth told the gathered employees that she was building a religion. If there were any among them who didn’t believe, they should leave.

Wow! What a powerful story. I'm a fan of financial stories and I personally work in the tech industry so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. If you like shows like Shark Tank, I think you will find this story interesting.

Elizabeth Holmes is 19 and an incredibly smart girl. She decides to dropout of Stanford because she has an id
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
(Throwback review) If you are working in the Health care or the Engineering sector, or if you are interested in Business, start-ups, or Tech firms, or if you love page-turners, this is one of the best books you can read.
CEOs like Elizabeth Holmes, who were manipulative and lacked empathy, should never come to the Health care, which will put millions of innocent people's lives in jeopardy just like what Theranos did by giving false Medical reports.
Lex Kent
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I don’t read a lot of nonfiction books. I love the imagination of fiction. When I heard about this book from a television show, it sounded unbelievable. The fact that this was a true story that seemed stranger than fiction, I had to give it a read. I’m really glad I did because this was really good.

This story is about the youngest woman, to become a self-made billionaire, and the giant fraud she committed on Silicon Valley. Elizabeth Holmes, was a Stanford drop-out that used her knowledge and f
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mesmerising. Unbelievable. Compulsively readable.

I cannot recommend this highly enough. I sped through this audiobook in a few days because I just could not stop listening to it. There were so many unbelievable things in this true account of the Theranos scam that my mouth dropped open in a way I wouldn't have thought happens in real life.

John Carreyrou traces the story of Elizabeth Holmes and her medical start-up Theranos from the beginning with the help of countless interviews and other insig
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is a detailed account of the (perceived) rise and demise of Theranos, a blood testing startup once valued at nearly $9B. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and barely wanted to put it down. It was baffling to read about the scams, stunts and lies this company pulled, led by founder Elizabeth Holmes and her former boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. The red flags surrounding Theranos were rampant, and Carreyrou does an excellent job ...more
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Moved to ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
From an early age Elizabeth Holmes, wanted to become an entrepreneur, maker her own fortune. Going to Standford, she revered Steve Jobs, and wanted to succeed in a life changing invention of her own. She dropped out of Standford and started her own company. She would Implement, invent and sell a small machine that would only take a pin prick of blood, getting instantaneous results that would allow doctors to make medication changes, much more quickly. Sounds good, many thought so, she raised mil ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Sanford dropout with no extensive engineering or medical or science or business knowledge 'created' an idea for a product and company that required all of those things. It not only ultimately failed but also put untold numbers of people at risk and harm? You don't say. One thing, for me, that was truly surprising in this story is that the dropout in question wasn't a white male, instead it was a woman, Elizabeth Holmes.

Elizabeth Holmes had on the surface a brilliant idea - what if just a coup
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, dubray
Money isn't the root of all evil. GREED is.....

A Fascinating story, a tale of corporate fraud and a Journalist who uncovers the biggest corporate fraud since Enron.

An intriguing story about a college dropout by the name of Elizabeth Holmes who becomes by the age of twenty nine, CEO of a company called Theranos and Silicon Valley’s first ever female billionaire entrepreneur but by 2018 was facing federal charges of massive fraud which could see her facing up to 20 years in prison.

I knew no
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
When we get our blood tested, we naturally assume the results that come back are trustworthy. High LDL cholesterol levels? We're either going to change our diet (whole food plant based is the way to go!), start exercising more, or decide to take statins (tip: WFPB diet and exercise are much better for your overall health than statins). Same thing if our blood work comes back saying we're diabetic. Or any other number of disorders. One thing is certain, when our blood work comes back saying there ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, friends, by now I’ve read this here book, I’ve listened to The Dropout podcast, and I’ve watched that crazy ole HBO documentary where Elizabeth Holmes stared at me with those creepy, unblinking eyes in front of a white background. I think I’ve covered the story from every angle, consumed it in three different ways, and now I’m wondering how I missed this story when it was a thing. Before all the books and documentaries and stuff. Oh well.

It’s always good to read a book directly from the s
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
What an audacious fraud!

Elizabeth Holmes must be the Queen of self-hype to get so many powerful (and allegedly smart) men to support this scheme (Jim Mattis! Henry Kissinger!). I would enjoy seeing both her and Sunny Balwani in jail, for what they'd done not only to their customers, but their employees.

Although I am not a fan of Wall Street Journal and the baloney they peddle in their opinion pieces, I was impressed by how their investigative department stood up against legal pressures from The
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved (and was disturbed by) every second of this. It's the exact kind of investigative story that I find fascinating filled with strange figures, secrecy, and moments that will make you say "how is that possible?!" Not only an incredible story, but Carreyrou does an absolutely wonderful job in telling it. Though some of the science is fairly complex, he's able to explain it clearly enough to show you just how critical Theranos' missteps were and the impact it had on real people's lives. I pow ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just when I thought all reporters ever did anymore was see what was trending on social media and write stories with titles like "You'll cheer how this mom clapped-back at her body-shamers on Twitter," this book gives me hope that old-fashioned investigative journalism is alive and well and doing exactly what it's supposed to: shine an unflinching hot light on those who abuse their power and privilege. Here, it's aimed at the bizarre cult of Elizabeth Holmes and her "disruptive" "game changing" c ...more
3 "important and brave work but underwhelming telling" stars !!!

Third Most Disappointing Read of 2020 Award

There are so many reviews of this that I am going to keep this very short

-courageous and admirable work in unearthing a huge medical scam that could have put thousands of patients at risk
-a good sequenced telling of events as they unravelled at Theranos labs
-very little on the developmental histories of Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani that may have deepened understanding of what occured
Manuel Antão
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Con-Artist: "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup" by John Carreyrou

This story is fascinating. Yes, how was she able to rationalize lying and endangering so many -- investors, Walgreens, and especially the general public? It was good this book went into her family of origin. Holmes' father expected her to do something that would change the world. Did Elizabeth feel pressure to be some sort of genius influencer? She h
Carol (Bookaria)
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A captivating, interesting, and (almost) unbelievable story. I had heard of Therano's downfall in the news, but the way this author investigated and narrated the events was absolutely remarkable.

The book details the rise and fall of Theranos, a Silicon-Valley company that aimed to provide fast, blood test results with a single drop of blood.

Elizabeth Holmes was the founder and CEO, her goal was to revolutionize the healthcare industry and, at some point, she was compared to the likes of Steve J
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John Carreyrou is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and a nonfiction author. His first book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, chronicles Silicon Valley's biggest fraud. ...more

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110 likes · 25 comments
“When the officer asked what he’d taken, Sunny blurted out in his accented English, “He stole property in his mind.” 35 likes
“A sociopath is often described as someone with little or no conscience. I’ll leave it to the psychologists to decide whether Holmes fits the clinical profile, but there’s no question that her moral compass was badly askew. I’m fairly certain she didn’t initially set out to defraud investors and put patients in harm’s way when she dropped out of Stanford fifteen years ago. By all accounts, she had a vision that she genuinely believed in and threw herself into realizing. But in her all-consuming quest to be the second coming of Steve Jobs amid the gold rush of the “unicorn” boom, there came a point when she stopped listening to sound advice and began to cut corners. Her ambition was voracious and it brooked no interference. If there was collateral damage on her way to riches and fame, so be it.” 30 likes
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