One of the most engrossing books I have read...the incredible story of Theranos, the silicon valley startup that was touted to be the Apple of medical tech world and its founder Elizabeth Holmes. This book lays bare the personality cult, the culture of fear and intimidation and the unquestioning loyalty she demanded from every employee...Theranos was a vehicle to realise the ambition of becoming a billionaire entrepreneur, even with lies and deceit. Brilliantly authored by the Wall Street Journal investigative reporter who broke the bubble and brought down Holmes and her $10 billion empire.
I happen to be an entrepreneur myself and in a strange way empathized with Elizabeth Holmes’s journey from height of fame to criminal soon to be behind bars. Start-up founders must be delusional to even attempt to start new companies against established competitors, building technology team from scratch and selling your vision to customers, investors and public at large. It is an impossible task and you need one level of craziness to be able to do it.
Once, you are in this crazy journey - it gets immensely difficult to figure out right from wrong. Not that it justifies any of the crimes - but it is helpful to understand the pressure founders are always in. This book beautiful tracks this journey and provides viewpoint of many of Theranos early employees and associates and would be extremely insightful for every start-up founder, employee and even customers.
What is alarming is how easy was it for some of the most reputed investors, politicians and even military generals to fall for the grand vision and miss the ground all together. Their all-star board included - Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and James Mattis; Holmes herself was close to Clinton and Obamas and was Silicon Valley star favourite of VCs, media and magazines. This should help readers temper the regard they have for public intellectuals as everyone is human - equally prone to errors and poor judgments.
Apart from being a fair warning about the extremes of Silicon Valley - this also is an engaging crime thriller - where you cannot help but turn page after page to learn how it all ends. No wonder this is soon turning into a Hollywood movie directed by Adam McKay director of 'The Big Short' with Jennifer Lawrence playing Holmes
This book is a much-needed balance in times where disruption is itself the end. One of the best books of 2018.
Fabulous book! Reads like a thriller, except that it deals with events that actually happened. A cautionary tale too of ambition leading a highly intelligent and charismatic biotech startup entrepreneur down the road of outright fraud.
While Starting up successfully and pursuing ones dream is a fairytale, this story of Theranos is illustrated that even in today's heavily connected startup world, there is every chance of playing spoilsport. Theranos- an ambitious startup by a young, ambitious, manipulative kid shows how much honesty,transparency and ethics must be of paramount importance in contrary to far flung ambition,dreams and goals pursued. Author, being an investigative journalist, has compiled a excellent book on the dark side of the healthcare startup. Excellent read and a lot of learnings
Drama, thrill, deceit, lies, megalomania, cheating, intimidation, adulation and finally justice! No this isn't a Sidney Sheldon or Jeffrey Archer novel - its Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes's extraordinary story. The story itself it quite outlandish and amazing, as is John Carreyrou's fearlessness in putting the story out. It's a great example of honest and brave journalism. The book itself is so gripping - couldn't let it go till I got to the back cover.
Also a must read for anybody interested in learning more about the dark side of the valley, where FOMO dictates investor's actions, entrepreneurs are queens and kings (irrespective of whether they deserve such adulation) and how the world is quick to jump to conclusions about people/startups based on superficial indicators. It's also an interesting case study on Elizabeth's character traits, and on what side of the 'Genius-Psychotic line' she lies in.
The novel tries to put the balanced view on what might have happened behind the scenes in Theranos. How Elizabeth Holmes suddenly shot to fame, and how her empire was dismantled because of her greed, cruelty and unchecked sociopath tendencies.
In the book, the author comes almost in the middle of the book, as a curious observer, and soon mixes inside the story. The readers are treated to what each of the people did. The dark side of industry is shown and it should be taken as a lesson by all the managers who try to manage their reportees through fear.
I had first read about Theranos in the New Yorker article which the author refers to several times. And i was deeply impressed by Elizabeth. However this book goes to show to what extent wrong and hideous things were done by Elizabeth and Sunny Balwani.
However I must say that the author is too harsh on Elizabeth and wrongfully so. She using deep voice is not okay with him. Why not? That's what people want in their leaders. Why not? What's wrong in that. He calls her almost a psychopath. He puts her down on every single attribute. It seems that because he was hounded by the legal team of Theranos, he took a full revenge on her through this book.
Though a lot of startups are genuine, there are many who are created to defraud the system and VCs. Theranos is a glaring example of the second one, very well documented in this book. The hobnobbing by the high and mighty isn't surprising - their stupidity and audacious disdain for norms are well documented. The book is very well presented and worth reading.
Unputdownable. The book exposes the corporate scam engineered by Theranos. Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos comes across as a sociopath, who will go to any extent to win the investors. Overall close to 1 billion dollars were invested in a company, whose blood testing technology never worked properly. The book also exposes the gullibility (or stupidity) of some of the investors and board members who were swept away by her charm and confidence. If you are already aware of Theranos scandal, then you can't put this book down. You can devour it during a weekend.
This is one of the best non fiction books I've ever read. It's a real life thriller and I admire the level of research which was put into this book. John Carreyrou - just wow. You just found yourself a fan. Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos deceived investors and patients alike for several years and this investigative piece helped unravel the deceit and lies they've been covering up. It's a must read to understand what is and isn't acceptable in this new age world of startups.