The blood test startup Theranos is circling the drain, and more and more details are leaked from inside the last turbulent days of the company. A particularly striking anecdote, courtesy of Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, revealed how an employee of Theranos made a clone of Space Invaders with a picture of Carreyrou himself as the titular alien threat, selected from his Twitter profile.
Carreyrou has been a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, whose series of damning reports about Theranos' leadership and its non-functional technology led directly to the company's downfall. Carreyrou's book about the saga, titled Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, will be released on May 21. She is also in the process of adapting to a Hollywood movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.
Last month, as a result of reports from Carreyrou and others over the course of more than two years, the SEC accused CEO Holmes of defrauding investors. Earlier this week, the company fired most of its remaining employees.
Unfortunately, the anecdote of Space Invaders did not enter Carreyrou's book:
I just learned an invaluable anecdote (too late to include it in the book): at a company party, Theranos employees played a video game inspired by Atari's Space Invaders: the weapon was the miniLab, the bullets that the nanotainers and the invader shot at: Sincerely! – John Carreyrou (@ JohnCarreyrou) April 12, 2018
However, we have a screenshot of the game, which seems pretty crude and apparently is called "I hate enemies":
Carreyrou says he will finally play:
Carreyrou went on to clarify that the game was not sanctioned by the management of Theranos, but that the employee who did it did so to learn the Python coding language "and try to encourage my former colleagues." It is clear that Carreyrou was not popular figure within the company. According to the report by journalist Nick Bilton about how Carreyrou's initial series of investigative reports initiated a cascade of disturbing revelations about the company, Theranos employees once allegedly chanted: "Fuck you, Carreyrou" in a meeting with all the members in October 2015.
So clearly he was in something, and now Carreyrou's work will be immortalized not only through his own book and the possible adaptation of Hollywood, but also in a bad clone of Space Invaders.