This book demands a quick read, it is exactly like a Netflix series except for the fact that it is not fiction. Bad Blood is not about blood sucking vampires or dangerous pathogens, it is really about delusional people who are ready to go to any lengths to protect their ego.
It tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes. She founded a revolutionary bio-tech startup that hoped to change how blood tests worked. With a small drop of blood, she claimed to have developed a technology that can do most of the tests that big labs can do at a fraction of price in almost real time. At it’s peak, “Theranos” is evaluated at a whooping $9 billion dollars making Holmes one of the richest female entrepreneurs in the world.
The sad fact about Theranos (I accidentally typed Thanos) is that it had a promising technology that would have worked if Holmes was not stubborn, and would have pulled off some of the tests realistically if she listened to scientists around her. Her extreme defensiveness of the product compounded by bad company of Sunny, her partner in crime never allowed her to see the light. She might have had good intentions when starting the company but she is unable to accept loss. Extreme loss aversion with cognitive dissonance made her cheat, lie, fire her employees and play with the board members.
It is a known fact that tech-companies overstate their capabilities and investors are aware of this fact. But, it is very rare for a health care startup to overstate their accuracy of tests and project billions of dollars of revenue putting lives of people at risk. It is extremely irresponsible and devastating. I hope that Theranos does not stop VC’s from investing in health care. There is a lot of scope that technology can bring to healthcare, we should learn our lesson from Theranos. We should proceed with caution whenever a company claims to do something outlandish and never publishes a single article in a peer reviewed journal. I would strongly recommend reading this book for touching a spectrum of moral issues around startups and technology.