Saturday, April 14, 2018

"‘Therabros’ and ‘disappeared’ staffers: the 8 juiciest things we learned from John Carreyrou’s new Theranos book"

From STATnews, Apr. 12
Theranos this week laid off all but about two dozen of its remaining employees — the latest indignity for the once fabulously rich blood-testing company that’s become a parable for Silicon Valley hubris.
As with much of the flood of bad news for Theranos, word of the layoffs came from John Carreyrou, the investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal who was the first to break the story of the company’s troubles in October 2015 and who later landed a string of Theranos-related scoops.

Carreyrou also happens to be the author of a new book on the company, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” which is being released on May 21. The first print, from the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf, will be 100,000 copies.

STAT obtained an advance copy of the roughly 300-page book. Through countless details and episodes reported for the first time, Carreyrou paints a damning portrait of the culture of dysfunction and deception overseen by CEO Elizabeth Holmes.

Below are the eight most remarkable things we learned from reading “Bad Blood.”
The company, we should add, didn’t return STAT’s request for comment.

1. Theranos was lying as early as 2006
Much of the attention on Theranos’ misdeeds has been focused on what happened (and what failed to happen) after the company launched its blood-testing services to the public in Walgreens drugstores in September 2013.

But Carreyrou says there was deception going on far earlier. 

In an episode reported for the first time in the book, Carreyrou describes a surreal scene from 2006, in which the company’s first chief financial officer learned that Theranos had deceived Novartis executives in demonstrating its technology at a pitch meeting in Switzerland. The trick: Because the blood-testing system was inconsistent in generating results, Theranos staffers had recorded a result from one of the times it worked to display in the demonstration.
And when the CFO raised concern about that with Holmes? He was fired on the spot.

2. Theranos’s technology was more amateurish than previously known
Theranos has largely taken heat for lying. But Carreyrou also found absurdity and amateurism at the heart of the company’s technology.

In one revealing incident, Holmes and an associate spent two hours pricking their fingers in a hotel before a big meeting with Novartis in a futile effort to get the buggy technology to work. In another, the head of the software team bragged that he could write the code for the technology’s software faster using Flash — before a “Learn Flash” book turned up on his desk....MUCH MORE
HT: Slope of Hope via ZeroHedge