I got swept up in the Theranos story — starring Elizabeth Holmes — via the podcast Drop Out and HBO documentary, The Inventor. Each covers the rise of a 19-year-old Stanford drop out and how she built an enterprise valued at almost a billion dollars. But the whole time I was listening and watching, I kept wondering who helped her cover it all up? This wasn’t some small operation. Theranos had contracts with Walgreens and Safeway. And the famous board—while culpable—aren’t on the ground everyday overseeing operations. This couldn’t be the work of just a few people.
Bad Blood tells the rest of the story. John Carreyrou is a Wall Street Journal investigative reporter. And his approach methodically explains — through interviews and facts — how Elizabeth Holmes was able to fool so many people by cajoling, threatening and charming young and old. And the book is a page turner. I was lent the book by friends, who said it read like a good murder mystery.
There is intimidation, hubris and bald face lies that echo loudly in the wake of Bernie Madoff and our current political climate. It’s reassuring to see that consequences and the truth finally came out. That the undoing plays out via a newspaper owned by an investor (Rupert Murdoch had to write off more than a $100 million) is a neat bow on the scandal.
As of this writing, Holmes is about to go on trial for fraud. In the end, this isn’t a story just about money. The tale is built on the universal need for safe, effective healthcare crossed with the American dream.
Barbarians at the Gate
Bryan Burrough & John Helyar
About the Author
John Carreyrou is a two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal. For his extensive coverage of Theranos, Carreyrou was awarded the George Polk Award for Financial Reporting and the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.