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Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Bad Blood - Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

I will confess that I never did follow the Theranos story very carefully. Unlike many others, I've never had a fear of blood tests, nor am I by nature an early adopter, so the prospect of only getting a "finger prick" rather than a venous blood draw never got me very excited.

Bad Blood covers the story, and in great detail. It reveals the tricks and techniques that Elizabeth Holmes and her executives used to brow-beat, intimidate, and trick employees, investors, and famous people into investing in the company, aiding it in its lies, and then intimidate those who would expose its illegal acts to the public.

There are many moments in the narrative where I think to myself, "My goodness, how did this story ever get made? The bad actors in the story are so powerful!" Then I realized that of course, the "technology" they were selling never worked, and they would have eventually been caught, though perhaps not before they hurt a ton of people with inaccurate or misleading blood tests.

The story is exciting, interesting, and of course, impeccably researched. It's interesting to me how easily most of the media was taken by personality, while nobody actually followed up and looked at the product by doing the kind of comparison study that John Carreyrou did (get an assay done by the Theranos product, and get one done by Labcorp).

In any case, the book comes highly recommended, and it's a good reminder that staying away from sociopaths is a good idea. Even if the good guys eventually win, the bad guys can still make your life very painful in the mean time. Buy or borrow your copy and read it!

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