John Carreyrou

March 5, 2019
The Great Hall

Reflection | PodcastPhotos

"Bad Blood - Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup"

John Carreyrou is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times bestselling author of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. For his extensive coverage of Theranos, Carreyrou was awarded the George Polk Award for Financial Reporting, the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in the category of beat reporting, and the Barlett & Steele Silver Award for Investigative Business Journalism. Carreyrou lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.

Press Release from SUU News


The March 5, 2019 A.P.E.X. Event featuring Pulitzer-prize winner and investigative journalist, John Carreyrou. Carreyrou has long been affiliated with the Wall Street Journal and is known for the massive Silicon Valley scandal of the medical startup company, Theranos.

Theranos was a company that was started in 2003 by the college drop-out, Elizabeth Holmes. Through her cleverly worded lies, she soon became the youngest self-made female billionaire in the United States ­– reaching a peak worth of ~$4.5 billion. Holmes and her company promised to deliver a device that ran a full range of complex medical testing from just a single prick on a person’s finger. The largest problem was that the product didn’t work. Results published by Theranos were actually the results produced from third-party commercial analyzers.

After publishing a breaking story that landed on the front page of the Wall Street Journal Carreyrou recounted how Theranos began giving test results from these third-party machines. The majority of these machines required a larger blood sample than what Theranos advertised was necessary for their testing. In order to get to get the volume necessary in the blood sample, Theranos engineers diluted the samples. The concentration of blood was lower than the standard required by the FDA, causing inaccurate results. If really customers are trusting these devices for potentially life-threatening information, you can begin to understand the danger of creating a company with this power and popularity.

Carreyrou mentioned the argument that the culture of Silicon Valley has often been “faking it until you make it.” CEO’s have been known to promise features in their software before their engineers had even begun work on it. He mentioned that Steve Jobs, Holmes’ idol, would show products with bugs during their keynote. This was the case of the iPhone. The underlying difference between Jobs and Holmes is that one was providing sensitive health data and the other was not.

Carreyrou’s main point is that the playbook of Silicon Valley is ill-suited to the medical industry. The tech industry’s cavalier attitude is too dangerous for the medical industry to implement in their new products. When a person’s physical health and financial security are at stake, more time and research can be taken. After Theranos was forced to be shutdown, Elizabeth Holmes faces as many as 20 years in prison.


Audio Transcript