A gripping tale of deceit, delusion and megalomania

Book review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup Books on corporate scandals can be very dull, but this is a real-life thriller.

912-Bad-Blood-150

Buy on Amazon

Entrepreneurs used to dream about taking their company public. These days, the booming private-equity markets mean firms can become billion-dollar "unicorns" and stay private. This helps firms take a more long-term approach and dodge red tape, but it also allows them to avoid awkward questions. This book is a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when that scrutiny is lacking.

Theranos was set up by Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes to commercialise her miniature blood diagnostic device. Her enthusiasm and charm convinced Safeway and Wallgreens to trial her technology, and persuaded Henry Kissinger and General James Mattis to join her board. She was acclaimed as a visionary, feted as the next Bill Gates.

Tipped off by a business rival, Carreyrou, an investigative journalist with The Wall Street Journal, decided to investigate. He found evidence that the firm was not only misrepresenting progress, but also putting lives at risk by knowingly giving patients and doctors inaccurate test results. Theranos launched an aggressive (but ultimately unsuccessful) legal campaign to try to get him to drop the investigation, which only ended after the firm imploded.

Books on corporate scandals can be very dull, but Bad Blood is a real-life thriller. Striking the perfect balance between the wider picture and the human drama, Carreyrou has created a gripping tale of deceit, delusion and megalomania.

Recommended

My must-read of 2020: a page-turning biography of Keynes
Investment strategy

My must-read of 2020: a page-turning biography of Keynes

John Stepek recommends some of his favourite financial books for you to read as lockdowns continue, including a surprisingly gripping biography of the…
31 Dec 2020
Five books to put on your Christmas list
Investment strategy

Five books to put on your Christmas list

Even if they’ve done nothing else, lockdowns – in whatever guise – have given us plenty of time to read. Merryn Somerset Webb picks five books to enjo…
7 Dec 2020
Four excellent books to get your teeth into while you remain holed up
Books

Four excellent books to get your teeth into while you remain holed up

Whether you’re going on a staycation (or even an actual holiday) or remaining holed up at home. Merryn Somerset Webb has four perfect books to educate…
6 Jul 2020

Most Popular

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021
Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now
Investment trusts

Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now

Some high-yielding listed lending funds have come through the crisis with flying colours. David Stevenson picks four of the best.
12 Apr 2021
Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?
Bitcoin

Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?

As bitcoin continues to soar in value, many of the world’s central banks are looking to emulate it by issuing their own digital currencies. But centra…
8 Apr 2021