I decided to complete the content portion of the re-read this week.   From a team-level perspective, I believe we can all recognize some if not all of the behaviors seen in Bad Blood, albeit on a far less sociopathic scale. If this were a business novel, it would be easy to assume that the behavior shown in the book is hyperbole used to make a grand point.  In Theranos’s case, the supporting reading I have done suggests the book is somewhat understated. Why do people take the abuse? Why is money the only thing that matters to some? Why do some people say yes to doing work they know is ethically wrong? I am not sure this book answers those questions nor do I think my analysis can shed light on the psychological rationale of individuals; however, next week we will wrap up our re-read by reflecting on the impact of Theranos like behavior at the team level.  Remember that we will re-read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell next (get a copy soon).

Wrapping up the action!

Chapter 19 – The Tip

This chapter walks through the steps Carreyrou took to build the story and later the book.  Note, the level of crazy in the main protagonists screams movie. One of the important points I gleaned in this chapter was the impact of the non-disclosure agreements (NDA) on keeping the legal and ethical failings of the company away from the press and authorities.  In this case, while the NDAs kept all of the ex-Theranos people either on deep background or off-the-record, Carreyrou was able to find another source of information, the doctors that used Theranos’s blood testing, that was damning. Note – in later chapters, many of these doctors were threatened into silence and signing NDAs.

In this chapter, we don’t see Theranos fight back yet.

Chapter 20 – The Ambush

Grandfather Schultz ambushes his grandson by calling him to the big house (trapping like a prison inside a mansion) to have a discussion and then inviting the Theranos lawyers.  Once Tyler arrives George springs the lawyers on him. This is after Tyler refuses to go to Theranos to talk with the lawyers. Theranos and the lawyers obsessively will go to nearly any end to protect Theranos. For Mr. Schultz, under Elizabeth’s glamor, money is thicker than blood!

This chapter ends after a lot of running around and backstabbing and with Tyler being ground to dust with a climactic meeting between Carreyrou, his editor, Theranos and a gaggle of lawyers at Wall Street Journal.

Chapter 21 – Trade Secrets

IN the meeting, Carreyrou and Theranos go through the main points in the story.  The meeting is very tense and adversarial. Theranos and it’s lawyers put their sociopathic spin on the meeting by threatening to sue or destroy the reputations of everyone involved. As a reminder, Theranos’s lawyers have been paid in stock.  The unwritten punchline is that money is thicker than ethics

Chapter 22 – la Mattanza

Even while Carreyrou/Wall Street Journal and Theranos faceoff, the news for Theranos is not all bad. The FDA approves Theranos’s herpes test. The herpes test is a very cut and dry blood test, a yes/no test that has a very little gray area.  All the rest of the problems we have seen before a Theranos still exist including draconian stuff in the office. The herpes test was viewed by some at Theranos and in the press has a vindication. Carreyrou’s editor suggests that The Wall Street Journal article should be delayed.  Carreyrou’s editor suggests they wait until everyone (Theranos and their lawyers) begins to ignore him, then they will run the story. The waiting tactic is s a Sicilian fishing trick, where fishermen wade out into the water and then stand very still.  The fisherman waits until the fish forget the fisherman are around then the fishermen spring into action and spear the fish. Pretty cool, but I might not have that much patience. 

Chapter 23 – Damage Control

While all of this is happening, Rupert Murdoch (media baron and owner of the Wall Street Journal) buys a stake in Theranos. Holmes attempts on four occasions to get Murdoch to kill the article. The bottom line is that in each case, he demurred, including one occasion in which he said that he trusted the editors of the Journal.

This chapter walks through how during this timeframe Theranos is attempting to squash and discredits anyone they thought had provided information to the article, including all of the doctors that had provided case information to Carreyrou.

With the publication date quickly approaching, the Theranos lawyers make one last pass at stopping or delaying the article.  They even go as far as to promise a demo in a few weeks and an interview with Holmes in a few days. None of that happens. The article ran on October 15, 2015.

The denials and non-denials that are made about the facts in the story written by Carreyrou are amazing.  The chapter ends with Carrerou anticipating action by regulators that would ban Theranos from blood testing.

Chapter 24 – The Empress Has No Clothes

The wheels come off with Theranos and Holmes being banned from the blood testing market. Walgreens drops Theranos.  By the end of the chapter, even the investors and the lawyers jump ship. The adage, rats were leaving the sinking ship, comes to mind. In an attempt to stay afloat Holmes throws Sunny under the bus by breaking up with him and firing him. Holmes blamed the lab problems on him.

One of the lines I thought was particularly powerful occurred as Holmes tried to pivot during a pathologist conference.  After Holmes points out the wonders of the miniLab, one of the pathologists shouts “you hurt people” as Holmes leaves the stage.


Carreyrou ends with the question of whether Holmes is a sociopath.  He sums up the book with the statement “her ambition was voracious and it broke no interference. If there was collateral damage on her way to riches and fame, so be it“

Next week we will have final observations.

Previous Entries:
Week 1 – Approach and Introduction – https://bit.ly/2J1pY2t

Week 2 — A Purposeful Life and Gluebot – https://bit.ly/2RZANGh

Week 3 — Apple Envy, Goodbye East Paly and Childhood Neighbors – https://bit.ly/2zbOTeO

Week 4 — A Reflection –https://bit.ly/2RA6AfT

Week 5 — Sunny – https://bit.ly/2AZ5tRq

Week 6 – The miniLab –  https://bit.ly/2rfmwJh

Week 7 – Wellness Play – https://bit.ly/2rqUYk6

Week 8 – Who is LTC Shoemaker – https://bit.ly/2GkbWv0

Week 9 – Lightning a Fuisz and Ian Gibbons – https://bit.ly/2QR7poR

Week 10 – Chiat\Day, Going Live and Unicorn – https://bit.ly/2SrRpGv

Week 11: The Grandson, Fame and The Hippocratic Oath – https://bit.ly/2FfSwp3