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
Theatre review: The Visit
Films

Theatre review: The Visit

Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Swiss classic The Visit, transported to 1950s America, poses the question: how much would you kill for?
28 Feb 2020

Most Popular

Bitcoin: fool’s gold or the new gold?
Bitcoin

Bitcoin: fool’s gold or the new gold?

With bitcoin hitting new highs last week, and close to becoming a mainstream investment, is it really gold for the 21st century?
15 Jan 2021
Leasehold reforms promise the end of a nightmare for many homeowners
Property

Leasehold reforms promise the end of a nightmare for many homeowners

Horror stories about unscrupulous landlords profiting from a legal relic of the feudal era are about to get a happy ending, says Simon Wilson.
16 Jan 2021
The MoneyWeek Podcast: bitcoin special
Bitcoin

The MoneyWeek Podcast: bitcoin special

Merryn talks to bitcoin experts Dominic Frisby and Charlie Morris to get the lowdown on the cryptocurrency to find out why it's such a huge global phe…
15 Jan 2021