YWNC Book Club — "Bad Blood" — Nov. 11, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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Private homes

Three locations: San Francisco, North Oakland, and San Mateo

San Francisco, CA

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For our second YWNC Book Club meeting of the 2018-2019 cycle, we have three confirmed gathering locations in San Francisco, North Oakland, and San Mateo. We will be discussing Bad Blood by John Carreyrou, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative French-American journalist with The Wall Street Journal.

Below is an excerpt of the New York Times review:

In 2015, Vice President Joe Biden visited the Newark, Calif., laboratory of a hot new start-up making medical devices: Theranos. Biden saw rows of impressive-looking equipment — the company’s supposedly game-changing device for testing blood — and offered glowing praise for “the laboratory of the future.” The lab was a fake. The devices Biden saw weren’t close to being workable; they had been staged for the visit.

Biden was not the only one conned... Marquee investors including Robert Kraft, Betsy DeVos and Carlos Slim shelled out $900 million. The company was the subject of adoring media profiles; it attracted a who’s who of retired politicos to its board, among them George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. It wowed an associate dean at Stanford; it persuaded Safeway and Walgreens to spend millions of dollars to set up clinics to showcase Theranos’s vaunted revolutionary technology. And its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was feted as a biomedical version of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, a wunderkind college dropout who would make blood testing as convenient as the iPhone.

This is the story... in “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup...” Her beguiling concept was that by a simple pinprick — drawing only a drop or two of blood — Theranos could dispense with the hypodermic needle, which she likened to a gruesome medieval torture, and perform a full range of blood tests in walk-in clinics and, ultimately, people’s homes. The premise was scientifically dubious, and Theranos’s technology was either not ready, unworkable or able to perform only a fraction of the tests promised. Many of the people who showed up at clinics actually had their blood drawn from old-fashioned needles. And most of the tests were graded not by Theranos’s proprietary technology, but by routine commercially available equipment...

The author’s description of Holmes as a manic leader who turned coolly hostile when challenged is ripe material for a psychologist; Carreyrou wisely lets the evidence speak for itself. As presented here, Holmes harbored delusions of grandeur but couldn’t cope with the messy realities of bioengineering. Swathed in her own reality distortion field, she dressed in black turtlenecks to emulate her idol Jobs and preached that the Theranos device was “the most important thing humanity has ever built.” Employees were discouraged from questioning this cultish orthodoxy by her “ruthlessness” and her “culture of fear.” Secrecy was obsessive....

Click on the link below to sign up now - registration closes on Friday, Nov.9 at 8pm.

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Private homes

Three locations: San Francisco, North Oakland, and San Mateo

San Francisco, CA

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