Although I like things light and positive, sometimes it's really important for investors to know what fraud/the worst of VC/SV/startups looks like at the highest levels. Carreyrou and his highly principled sources withstood intimidation and harassment to break the story of Theranos' total and abject failure. Theranos burned $900m, a third of which was burned on legal intimidation and fees, raised off its all time high valuation of $8bn.

Takeaways include: 1) please, please, PLEASE don't invest in any founder that purports to be the second coming of Steve Jobs (at a minimum, please read Isaacson's biography, as well as Bob Iger and Ed Catsmull's biographies to fact check,) 2) don't invest in any company that won't explain its technology to you (ideas are free,) and 3) smart people at the highest of every level can still be deceived, so look for primary evidence, write deal memos, and be obstinate about relying on your own thinking.

My Notes By Chapter

  • 5: Holmes came from an esteemed family, but her parents weren't loaded by any stretch of the imagination. Putting in the $30k they had for her Stanford tuition into Theranos represented a significant decision.
  • 7: Despite the 2008 financial crisis, low interest rates were pumping money into VC.
  • 65 y.o. Philadelphia, Dr. J, Jay Rosen, worked with Walgreens innovation team. Conshohocken, Take Care Health Systems.
  • 8: Nepotistic hiring of undergrads who copy pasted ESPN articles into emails to pretend to work, this is why hiring processes with clear standards and mechanisms for team based self-verification are important.
  • 9: Safeway, Steven Burd, with analysts who dial in to company quarterly earning calls.
  • 12: Ian Gibbons, English blood work expert. 2005-2010, Theranos leader with Gary Frenzel. Was originally senior, but got flipped with his report. Nerdy scientist to a T, copious notes to leisure time, avid reader, list of every single book he read, including Marcel Proust Remembrance of Things Past, all seven volumes. Ian and wife met at Berkeley in the 70s. Ian also liked opera and photography.
  • Folie a Deux: Holmes and Ramesh 'Sunni' Balwani.
  • 15: Theranos had grown from $40m (2006) to $6bn (2013), Uber raised $361m at $5bn, Spotify 250m on $4bn
  • Theranos kept poaching Board of Directors members from Stanford Hoover Institute fellowship.
  • 18: Pathology Blawg, the source that, Adam Clapper, used to tip off Carreyrou. This is the power of distributed, self-verifying expert intelligence.
  • 23: Marc Andreessen came to defend Holmes, as his wife had just profiled her in "5 revolutionary visionaries changing the world."
  • Epilogue: Theranos burned through most of $900m, much on legal expenses. Around $250m were spent on legal services.
  • Credits: Will Damron was the audiobook narrator, who also narrated "The Man Who Solved the Market."

Bonus Resources

For fun, here's a picture of the Cool vs. Cash Spectrum chart I made in 2018. Notice Theranos at the bottom left for being neither cool (fraud) nor cash (bankrupt.)

Summary, Key Ideas + Review: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
Book Review
"Being in the Bay Area, I’ve heard so much about this, but figured it was mostly hype. When it finally popped up on Bill Gates’s list of Best Books of 2018 a few days ago, I decided to take the plunge... I think Bill Gates’s description (which sold me on this book) sums it up nicely: “The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.”
Bad Blood John Carreyrou Overview - Studypool
This study guide and infographic on Bad Blood offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore the wide library of materials on
Chapter by chapter summary, impressive. 
Bad Blood Summary, Review PDF
Good summary with big ideas, also "Elizabeth Holmes was the next big thing in Silicon Valley. Heralded as a female Steve Jobs, this charismatic, black-turtleneck-wearing wunderkind promised the world a medical revolution: a tiny, highly portable, cheap and quick blood-testing device capable of screening for over 200 conditions. But Theranos, the company she built on the back of this claim, turned out to be a house of cards. Once Theranos’ management realized that its “miracle machine” didn’t work, the team started lying and misleading investors, customers and regulatory authorities."
Some thoughts after reading “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” « Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
Surprisingly spicy writings from Columbia. Very on point and writes great analysis and critique from the perspective of a scientist. Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University.