Bad Blood

(Axel Boer) #1

Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois, and gave a presentation to a
group of Walgreens executives. Dr. J, who flew up from Pennsylvania
for the meeting, instantly recognized the potential of the Theranos
technology. Bringing the startup’s machines inside Walgreens stores
could open up a big new revenue stream for the retailer and be the
game changer it had been looking for, he believed.

It wasn’t just the business proposition that appealed to Dr. J. A
health nut who carefully watched his diet, rarely drank alcohol, and
was fanatical about getting a swim in every day, he was passionate
about empowering people to live healthier lives. The picture Elizabeth
presented at the meeting of making blood tests less painful and more
widely available so they could become an early warning system against
disease deeply resonated with him. That evening, he could barely
contain his excitement over dinner at a wine bar with two Walgreens
colleagues who weren’t privy to the secret discussions with Theranos.
After asking them to keep what he was about to tell them confidential,
he revealed in a hushed tone that he’d found a company he was
convinced would change the face of the pharmacy industry.

“Imagine detecting breast cancer before the mammogram,” he told
his enraptured colleagues, pausing for effect.

A FEW MINUTES BEFORE eight a.m. on August 24, 2010, a group of
rental cars pulled up in front of 3200 Hillview Avenue in Palo Alto. A
stocky man with glasses and dimples on his wide nose stepped out of
one of them. His name was Kevin Hunter and he headed a small lab
consulting firm called Colaborate. He was part of a Walgreens
delegation led by Dr. J that had flown to California for a two-day
meeting with Theranos. The drugstore chain had hired him a few
weeks before to help evaluate and set up a partnership it was
negotiating with the startup.

Hunter had a special affinity for the business Walgreens was in: his
father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all been pharmacists.
Growing up, he’d spent the summers helping his dad man the counter

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