I came across John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood in a year-end LinkedIn post written by Bill Gates. He has made a list of top 10 books that impressed him in 2018. He does that every year.
And a great book it is, indeed. I couldn’t leave it for about 30 hours, counting my sleeping time. I found it very well researched and providing different aspects and references—pure investigative journalism.
It tells the story of Theranos, a company which generated enormous hype and hundreds of millions of VC capital and investment promising to change the way blood is taken and analysed. It was the talk of not only Silicon Valley, but the whole of the USA and beyond. It even had strong political ties to both democrats and republicans.
What fascinated me the most was the sheer focus on “fake it until you make it” strategy. Until this day, it is unclear how so many “serious” people and companies gave their buy-in on what turned out to be an enormous and encompassing scam.
The interesting thing here is that the same practice is observed in big corporations, just not probably to this enormous extent. Controlling the narrative, creative approach to projections, distorted reality – you name it. It all exists not only in Theranos but also in many other companies.
Bad Blood follows the tracks and threads of a single company, but one can’t help but think about other businesses and how their valuation and investment approach is working. Questionable due diligence, over-reliance on a single source of market data and projections, too many people with too much money they don’t really know what to do with, the existence of sustainable growth approach, qualified talent and the lack of it…
John Carreyrou described an unbelievable chain of events and actions, which eventually led the company and many people involved in its business to a crash-and-burn ending. And while my mind is still busy digesting all the information, I can only recommend this book to be read and re-read.
If you have not, make sure putting Bad Blood on your reading list plans for 2019.
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