Review: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Literally couldn’t put down this book. Carreyrou’s account of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes is mercilessly matter-of-fact. The Theranos cautionary tale could have been to never mistake a prototype for the real deal — but something even more insidious was afoot.

My central thought: Would the same events be told differently had Theranos succeeded? After all, history is notoriously written by the victors, and Theranos admittedly adopted many of the same “bold” tactics used by Silicon Valley tech startups. Is it that Theranos played in the sensitive field of patient care (and not consumer electronics) that rendered the tactics vile? Or would a story of a failed Apple still sound much tamer? Personally, I suspect the latter. By all accounts, Holmes’ interest in her actual product was negligible compared to her obsession with her image. While her behaviour may have been Jobs-like, her intent and motivation were anything but.

I continue to wonder what it is that separates the people who are brought to answer for their mistakes from those who seemingly are not. Topical, given the recent going-ons both in big tech and in politics. Is it just a matter of time, or is a downfall altogether avoidable for the select few?