On April 12, 2022 the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at Colorado Law will host Whistleblower Ethics: Tyler Shultz on Theranos, Integrity, and Resilience in Silicon Valley, and the Ethical, Legal, Business, and Psychological Aspects of Whistleblowing, in collaboration with nine other Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program universities: Colorado Mesa University, the New Mexico State University, the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs College of Business, the University of Colorado Denver Business School, the University of Denver Daniels College of Business, the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, and the University of Wyoming College of Business.
The event will feature a fireside chat conversation with key Theranos whistleblower Tyler Shultz, followed by a panel discussion including Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC attorney Erica Blachman Hitchings, GlaxoSmithKline whistleblower Cheryl Meads, U.S. Bank Senior Vice President and Global Chief Ethics Officer Katie Lawler, and Principal Researcher at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business James Dungan, who has researched and published on the subject of whistleblower psychology.
The Theranos Story
Tyler Shultz was a key whistleblower in exposing the now-infamous Theranos fraud. In 2014, Elizabeth Holmes and her startup Theranos were on top of the world – she had enormous interest from investors and high-profile supporters, fawning media attention, and the claim that she was changing the world through her novel blood-testing equipment that relied on a mere drop of blood from a fingerstick prick to identify a wide array of ailments. Capitalizing on her image as the Stanford-dropout-turned-next-Steve-Jobs, Holmes had convinced the world of her vision, resulting in a $9B valuation of her company. Unfortunately for Holmes and Theranos, the technology behind her idea didn’t work. As a result, she resorted to ever-increasing unethical and fraudulent schemes and a toxic work culture to conceal technological deficiencies and buy more time. Her house of cards came crashing down in 2015, when journalist John Carreyrou published his meticulously researched Wall Street Journal investigation, backed by the accounts of several whistleblowers. After a nearly four month trial, a jury found Elizabeth Holmes guilty of four counts relating to investor fraud in January 2022.
Tyler Shultz was one of those whistleblowers. Shultz is an entrepreneur fostering innovation in healthcare. He graduated from Stanford with a Biology degree and entered the national scene when he courageously blew the whistle at Theranos. Tyler complained to the public health regulators in New York and was a source for a series of Wall Street Journal articles exposing Theranos’ dubious blood-testing practices. Owing to his role in exposing the fraud, Shultz was featured in Bad Blood, the book about the scandal penned by John Carreyrou, the original author of the Wall Street Journal articles, as well as in Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary The Inventor.
Currently, Shultz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Flux Biosciences, Inc., a bay-area start-up. Flux Biosciences aims to bring medical grade diagnostics into the homes of consumers by using cutting-edge technology to measure biomarkers related to stress, exercise, and fertility. His efforts were recognized by Forbes when he was named to their “30 under 30” Health Care 2017 list.
The Theranos story has proven to be of significant public interest. Hulu released its interpretation of The Dropout (based on ABC’s podcast) in March 2022 starring Amanda Seyfried, and Apple intends to release a feature film based on Carreyrou’s book starring Jennifer Lawrence. John Carreyrou also created a podcast entitled “Bad Blood: The Final Chapter” concurrently with Holmes’s trial.