Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup tells the story of Theranos, the biotech startup headed by a very young woman that raised $900 million before being exposed as a fraud, as its blood testing devices simply did not draw enough blood to accurately perform any of the tests it was touted to do.
The subtitle is very accurate in that many of the stories, although extreme, could take place in any other startup: the paranoia about trade secrets, the over-the-top parties with inflated claims of taking over the world, the competing engineering teams, not to mention the crazy work hours. What’s amazing in this story, and is only hinted at by the author (a journalist who sticks to facts), is how a college dropout was able to bamboozle a series of venture capitalists into raising a fortune. It’s so interesting to see that all the VCs are older men and the CEO is a young woman, and that they are all technology VCs trying hard to succeed in the biotech field. Since a very basic knowledge of chemistry suggests that the blood tests could not be accurate, how come they never inquired (and none of the biotech VCs was interested)? It’s an amazing story, not because of the internal shenanigans, but because of who was fooled.