…John Carreyrou tells [the story] virtually to perfection in
Bad Blood, which really amounts to two books. The first is a chilling, third-person narrative of how Holmes came up with a fantastic idea that made her, for a while, the most successful woman entrepreneur in Silicon Valley…The author's description of Holmes as a manic leader who turned coolly hostile when challenged is ripe material for a psychologist; Carreyrou wisely lets the evidence speak for itself…In the second part of the book the author compellingly relates how he got involved, following a tip from a suspicious reader. His recounting of his efforts to track down sources…reads like a West Coast version of All the President's Men.
The New York Times Book Review - Roger Lowenstein
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. (May)
Bad Blood is the real be-all end-all of Theranos information…. Bad Blood is wild, and more happens on one page than in many other entire books." —Margaret Lyons, The New York Times "You will not want to put this riveting, masterfully reported book down. No matter how bad you think the Theranos story was, you'll learn that the reality was actually far worse." —Bethany McLean, bestselling coauthor of The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils Are Here "Chilling... Carreyrou tells [this story] virtually to perfection… Reads like a West Coast version of All the President's Men." —Roger Lowenstein, The New York Times Book Review "The definitive account of Theranos’s downfall, detailing its motley crew of executives, legal knife fights, dramatic PR stunts, and skullduggery... Offers a lot for foreign-policy wonks... While Bad Blood is worth reading for its own merits—it’s a stunning feat of journalism that reads like a thriller—it also says a lot about Washington’s facile relationship with Silicon Valley. Most D.C. power brokers know next to nothing about science or technology but increasingly view Silicon Valley tech as a deus ex machina for some of the world’s most complicated challenges. Bad Blood offers a sobering warning of where that type of thinking can lead." —Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy "A great and at times almost unbelievable story of scandalous fraud, surveillance, and legal intimidation at the highest levels of American corporate power. . . . The story of Theranos may be the biggest case of corporate fraud since Enron. But it’s also the story of how a lot of powerful men were fooled by a remarkably brazen liar." —Yashar Ali, New York Magazine "Even if you didn’t follow the story of charismatic Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes (and the ensuing trainwreck) in the news, you will find yourself zipping through a book that proves once again that fact is stranger than fiction. A stunning look into a high-tech hoodwinking; like a high-speed car chase in a book." —The New York Post's "28 Most Unforgettable Books of 2018" "In Bad Blood, acclaimed investigative journalist John Carreyrou, who broke the story in 2015, presents comprehensive evidence of the fraud perpetrated by Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes... He unveils many dark secrets of Theranos that have not previously been laid bare… The combination of these brave whistle-blowers, and a tenacious journalist who interviewed 150 people (including 60 former employees) makes for a veritable page-turner." —Eric Topol, Nature "Engrossing… Bad Blood boasts movie-scene detail… Theranos, Carreyrou writes, was a revolving door, as Holmes and Balwani fired anyone who voiced even tentative doubts… What’s frightening is how easy it is to imagine a different outcome, one in which the company’s blood-testing devices continued to proliferate. That the story played out as it did is a testament to the many individuals who spoke up, at great personal risk." —Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, "In exposing the fudged numbers, boardroom battles and sickening sums of money tossed Theranos’ way, Science Bad Blood succeeds in highlighting Silicon Valley’s paradoxical blind spot. Insular corporate culture and benevolent media coverage have allowed a monster to grow in the Valley—one that gambles not just with our smart phones or our democracy, but with people’s lives. Bad Blood reveals a crucial truth: outside observers must act as the eyes, the ears and, most importantly, the voice of Silicon Valley’s blind spot." —B. David Zarley, Paste Magazine's "16 Best Nonfiction Books of 2018" "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." — Publishers Weekly (Starred) "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.... Carreyrou's commitment to unraveling Holmes' crimes was literally of life-saving value." —Booklist (Starred Review) "Eye-opening... A vivid, cinematic portrayal of serpentine Silicon Valley corruption... 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… [Carreyrou] 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." — Kirkus
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
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.