Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Length: 341 pages
Published: May 2018

After reading journalist John Carreyrou's investigative book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, I do believe truth can be stranger than fiction. How in the world did such a young lady fool so many tenured business people and politicians? This book is an in-depth look at Elizabeth Holmes and her startup, Theranos. The genesis of the book was derived from Carreyrou's October 2015 Wall Street Journal report. 

Simply put this book is investigative journalism at its finest. 

I think the prevailing theme in this book is that we, as a society, have to get back to the facts. The lies and deception have to stop. We are not better off having been persuaded to one person (or group's) way of thinking. Rather, the truth shall set us free. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the way Carreyrou presented this fact-based story. He was very detailed, explaining complex science and medical processes in a way that made it easy for this liberal arts major to understand. Having said that, some of his format caused confusion for me. The way that he interchanged the identification of key players by using their first names and last names made it difficult to follow because there were a lot of players involved. Also, I found the change of perspective midway through the book troublesome. He told the first part of the story in third person, and then when his role was introduced, he abruptly changed to first person. 

Googling "Elizabeth Holmes" will generate a plethora of articles, videos, and photos. Check out the free Way Back Machine to get some insight to the now defunct Theraonos website. I've watched some online videos, and I can certainly see the effectiveness of her persuasive communication skills. She doesn't offer up a whole lot of science, but she uses her words very well. It is easy to see how her charisma and charm won over so many people (especially older men who were ridiculously memorized by her). 

The saddest thing about this whole story is that Holmes had a good idea. Despite knowing the outcome, I found myself pulling for her technology to work. What if she wouldn't have gotten in her own way and succeeded? What if she had listened to the many voices of reason and developed a societal-changing product? She not only robbed her investors, partners, and customers but also society as a whole because tunnel vision and greed resulted in Theranos' demise. Instead, the only thing Holmes succeeded in was proving the old adage true - If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Recommendation: If you want to learn more about this fascinating true story, please check out Bad Blood. This book offers so much more than what you can glean online. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.