A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter at The Wall Street Journal charts the rise and fall of Theranos, one of Silicon Valley's hottest health-care startups that, after attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from the likes of Joe Biden and Betsy DeVos, turned out to be a fraud
In Theranos’s brief, Icarus-like existence as a Silicon Valley darling ... [t]he company was the subject of adoring media profiles; it attracted a who’s who of retired politicos to its board ... This is the story the prizewinning Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou tells virtually to perfection ... Carreyrou’s presentation has a few minor flaws. He introduces scores of characters and, after a while, it becomes hard to keep track of them. In describing these many players he sometimes relies on stereotypes ... Such blemishes in no way detract from the power of Bad Blood. In the second part of the book the author compellingly relates how he got involved, following a tip from a suspicious reader. His recounting of his efforts to track down sources...reads like a West Coast version of All the President’s Men. The author is admirably frank about his craft ... The question of how it [Theranos] got so far — more than 800 employees and a paper valuation of $9 billion — will fascinate business school classes for years.
Carreyrou’s reporting in Bad Blood is exhaustive, including interviews with more than 150 people—more than 60 of those being ex-Theranos employees with enough tea to fill an Olympic pool. Still, the book stumbles a bit in its third act, when Carreyrou introduces himself and how he broke the story. Since we’ve spent the last 200 pages in the story, hearing him piece it together after the fact is a bit humdrum. (Carreyrou might have two Pulitzers, but this isn’t exactly Spotlight.) Still, these are small issues in a book that speaks volumes to tech at large.