True crime meets TechCrunch meets Investigative journalism.
A House of Cards
Pulitzer prize winning journalist John Carreyrou writes about his years long investigation of the “revolutionary” biotech startup, Theranos, and their legally, and ethically questionable practices.
This book primarily follows Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO and founder of Theranos, a company that she founded at 19 after dropping out of Stanford. Her mission was to create revolutionary blood testing technology to make all sorts of blood tests accessible to the world. What starts as a noble intention soon devolves into a game of false pitches, lies, and criminal and ethical breaches.
Holmes, and the second in command Sunny Balwani somehow manages to raise 100s of millions of dollars at decacorn valuations, without having the product they promised, which is the most amazing part of the story.
During the third act of the book, the author inserts himself into the narrative, which offers a very interesting look into how investigative journalists follow a story, from a tip, to publishing.
The book is written like a thriller, and its hard to believe a lot of these things really happened. I have always been interested in the startup ecosystem, having only worked in startups in my very short career so far, so this book proved to be even more interesting, since it shows the inside story of how a startup reaches high valuations, and woo investors. It shows the duct tape, and glue holding together everything behind the shiny exterior of startups (which I am sure is even more accurate of a description of Indian startups. On more than once occasion, I had friends working in other startups tell me of their appalling codebases.)
If you interested in quality investigative journalism, or the startup eco system, this book has to be on your must read list. Its entertaining, and I didn’t even realize how quickly the book got over. I give this a very strong 4/5.