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Book Reviews Business

Bad Blood – So bad, so good

“Everywhere you look with this young lady, there’s a purity of motivation. I mean she really is trying to make the world better, and this is her way of doing it.”

George Shultz, Theranos board member (Carreyrou 2017)

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If you haven’t yet, you need to read Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.

It’s my latest favorite business book. It’s right up there with Valley of Genius and The History of the Future. John Carreyrou writes about the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her startup, Theranos. It’s a wild ride of fame, fortune, and downfall. Reading Bad Blood is like watching a TV drama unfold.

Ok, let’s get real. This book is great. I think it should be added to every entrepreneurship and business class in college. Heck, even high school since not everyone goes to college (looking at you Holmes). To be fair, Elizabeth Holmes attended two and a half semesters at Stanford before leaving to start Theranos.

Carreyrou tells the story of Theranos through lens of the people who worked there. Each employee follows the same arch. They are entranced by Elizabeth Holmes and her message – that we can diagnose and treat everyone in the world with a single finger prick of blood.

Not long after working at Theranos, employees are soon disenfranchized. Disinformation (or lack of any information), toxic culture, and pure disregard for ethical business practices lead employees to quit. Those that don’t quit are fired for raising concerns.

Bad Blood deep dives into a company that is seemingly perfect – class A board, raised millions of dollars, and a female Silicon Valley CEO – is in fact an example of everything not to do when building a startup.

I don’t want to ruin the surprise. You should definitely read Bad Blood for yourself and let me know what you think. It’s an amazing story of how someone with so little experience (Holmes started Theranos at 19 after dropping out of college) could get away with so much.

If you want to hear more, please check out my recording of Bad Blood using the prompts from Company Reads discussion guide. If you like this type of content, please let me know. I’ll start recording more!


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