Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Reviewed on , book by John Carreyrou

It changes to a first-person narrative in the last third of the book—blasted through that 5-star drama part where the entertainment value was through the roof. The book’s about Theranos, a company who’s founder, Elizabeth Holmes, had the vision of a finger blood test being able to show you anything you’d like to know in your home, nearest grocery store, or doctor—all connected. There’s three ways to interpret Holmes/Fyre Festival organizers (and her sudden change to a very deep voice): (1) total crazy-pants svengali fraudster, (2) someone who had a vision, struggled to execute it, but refused to believe it and went to absolute extremes to preserve a view of the world where they succeeded, (3) Holmes is in the right and Carreyrou is a liar (there’s maybe 3 people in the entire world that believes this, don’t be one of them). I chose to read this book with view number two: confirmation bias, sunk cast fallacy, and other biases stacking on top of each other in some non-linear lallapalooza spectacle that caused a total distortion of the world for the execs at Theranos. Through this lense, it’s a true popcorn novel.

Why 3-stars? Well, 5-stars is reserved for “this is going to be useful for me every week of the rest of my life”, and 4-stars is “this is really, really good.” 3-stars is “this is good, but another author probably could’ve done it just as well.” Sorry Carreyrou, your journalism was A+, but I really wish you would’ve told me the whole book through your or someone else’s eyes. There’s pockets of narrative within the first part, before Carreyrou got involved, and I found myself wishing that they’d keep going—but they were so short. What’s also missing for a higher rating is that truly excellent biographies and stories about people, living or dead, get in their head. They know how they think, and they’re not afraid to go out on a limb and hypothesize about what they’re thinking and why they did what they did. I wish there would’ve been a few pages on what Carreyrou thought was the reason for Holmes’ absolutely puzzling behaviour throughout this entire thing (and today). I can do my guesswork (as I did above), but this gentleman has read 1,000s and 1,000s of pages and spoken to 10s of people—I’d love to hear a little subjectivism from this very objective journalist. You can’t please everybody, I’m sure others would hate it, but I’d love it.