Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley startup by reporter John Carreyrou is a bestselling novel, released in the spring of 2018. The book details how a young Stanford dropout, Elizabeth Holmes, managed to dupe investors out of billions of dollars by weaving a deceptive web of lies about a blood test machine she claimed to have invented. Carreyrou’s novel is highly acclaimed and was even recommended by Bill Gates. Bad Blood is indeed good, easy to get into and a quick read.
I had first become fascinated by Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos when a friend was telling me about a great podcast she was listening to about it. I devoured that and then discovered there was a documentary about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos called The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, which I devoured also. I discovered the novel Bad Blood later, although the writer John Carreyrou was the first to break the original Wall Street Journal article about the deceptions of Theranos, while he was working as a reporter at the paper.
So, in spite of the fact that I was well-saturated in all things Elizabeth Holmes at this point, I still thought the novel was excellent.
And just in case there are still some people on the planet who don’t know about Elizabeth Holmes or Theranos, there is apparently a Bad Blood tv show in the works starring Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Holmes AND coming out next year, a Bad Blood movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, which adapts John Carreyrou’s book.
When was the last time someone inspired so many books, movies and tv shows: OJ Simpson? Yikes! Well, Elizabeth Holmes is not a murder suspect, but she is in a lot of legal trouble at the moment, with her trial date set for summer 2020.
But in the meantime, here are five fascinating details that I learned from reading the book Bad Blood.
What inspired her to attempt to create this medical device that could test only a drop of blood?
- Elizabeth liked to tell a story in many of her interviews and talks about a beloved uncle who had tragically passed away too soon. But apparently Elizabeth was not particularly close to the uncle, whose story she frequently used to illustrate with emotional flair as to why she wanted to revolutionize the medical field. Her relatives were not pleased with her decision to invoke his death as part of her narrative.
Did she face pressure as things were mounting?
- Elizabeth Holmes may have felt that she had big shoes to fill, as she, …”grew up with stories about greatness…” She is decended from The Fleischmans, founders of the Fleischman Yeast Company and on the other side, one of Napoleon’s top field generals.
How did Elizabeth see herself?
- Elizabeth saw herself as one of the Silicon Valley greats and admired Steve Jobs so much that she started to mimic his habit of wearing of black turtlenecks all the time.
Who invested in her company, Theranos?
- A lot of very well-known individuals invested in Theranos but I was surprised to learn that even as Theranos’ secrets were beginning to unravel, Elizabeth Holmes managed to personally convince Rupert Murdoch to invest 125 million in her company.
- Particularly tragic and fascinating was the detail Carreyrou revealed that one of his sources was the grandson of a top board member at Theranos. The grandson had worked at the company for several months after graduation but quickly grew suspicious of what was going on behind the scenes. He tried to reveal all he knew to his grandfather but it proved very difficult and harder than you might imagine.
With this book, a podcast, a documentary, a tv show and a movie all about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, the only thing left is for Elizabeth Holmes herself to write a memoir. Do you think she will write one? Would you read if she did?