Bessie Chu

Dec 28, 2021

4 min read

Theranos as An American Parable

I recently read Bad Blood since the Theranos trial is coming in full swing.

I can’t help but see Theranos as an uniquely American parable with genre-bending plotlines about hype machines, toxic workplaces, and a certain moment in Silicon Valley. It’s a story very much about us.

I lived in the Bay Area at the start of the most recent tech boom in the 2010s. I’ve never been anywhere as crazy as Theranos, but I can recognize many plots of this story. It was very much a mood of that time. We might be due for another iteration with the promises of Web3.

Bad Blood Book Cover
  1. This is a story about people desperately wanting to believe something is true. I’ve seen so many people want to look for a silver bullet dataset or solution that doesn’t exist. There’s a deep denial when people seem to have stumbled upon a golden solution. Elizabeth Holmes manipulated peoples’ better angels about improving healthcare and how they could change the world for the better. There’s such an internal sunk cost and denial that would lead people to destroying their family ties in the story.