The Dropout: What Happened To Real Life Erika Cheung & Tyler Shultz, The Theranos Whistleblowers?

Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung
Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung
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Hulu series, The Dropout is about the infamous case of Theranos, where two whistleblowers Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz exposed the malpractice conducted in the company. Elizabeth Holmes, a Stanford dropout founded the company in 2003. The scandal was covered in a variety of ways, but the Hulu series, The Dropout gained the traction of many people. The two prominent characters of Erika and Tyler were played by Camryn Mi-Young Kim and Dylan Minette, respectively. The series came to an end yesterday, however, the question lies ahead about the real-life Cheung and Shultz.

 What Happened To Erika Cheung?

The reel and real-life Erika Cheung
The reel and real-life Erika Cheung

Both Erika and Shultz have told their stories via Wall Street Journal in 2015. The experience of Erika was encapsulated in a Ted Talk that she later delivered. She admitted to fraudulent test patterns in the Company. “I don’t know what the actual result was”, talking about a prostate cancer test. In the series, her character appears for the first time in episode 6. The lab associate joins the Company and soon is thrown into the mysterious culture of the company. 

Both Erika and Tyler become friends though they come from different backgrounds and recruitment processes. The former was recruited by a job fair and the latter through nepotism.

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According to the series, Erika couldn’t afford to leave the job, but in reality, Erika left the job at Theranos after working for seven months. In real life, Erika blew up the matter through her Ted Talk in which she mentioned that “Theranos was altering data within their labs.” 

She also expressed, “I was starting to get very uncomfortable and very stressful working at the company.” In 2014, She went on to work with Antibody Solutions as their Research and Development associate.  Erika also mentioned that “I was attempting to tell as many people as I could but it was not getting through people.

At present, Cheung is the Co-founder of Ethics in Entrepreneurship, a non-profit organization. Erika is also an advisor to Betatron. She was also a primary source for journalist John Carreyrou’s investigative book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.

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The Dropout: Current Life Of Tyler Shultz

The reel and real-life Tyler Shultz
The reel and real-life Tyler Shultz

In the series, 13 Reasons Why fame, Dylan Minnette played the character of Tyler Shultz, who works at the biotech blood-testing company founded by Elizabeth Holmes, a Stanford dropout. His grandfather, who was a member of the board, got the job. George Shultz was in the cabinets of the administration of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon regimes. He greatly believed in Elizabeth’s vision.

Tyler left the job after eight months as he suspected the questionable, unethical practices of the company. He discussed it with Erika. Before that, he also reached out to the New York State Department of Health and informed them that the things unfolding were “not sounding right.” He also contacted Theranos’ biostatistics Vice President Daniel Young. 

Like Erika, he also became a major source for Carreyrou’s book. Shultz spoke with other media houses as well as joined in the efforts of Alex Gibney in the documentary The Inventor in 2019. Now, he is an advisor at Cheung’s non-profit organization, Ethics in Entrepreneurship. Its mission is to “provide investors, entrepreneurs, and workers with resources to better recognize, and manage ethical issues in emerging companies.” 

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Tyler has founded the biotech company Flux Biosciences. After leaving Theranos, he worked at Stanford University’s Wang Lab to learn about Giant MagnetoResistive (GMR). The technology will aid patients to check their ailments. Flux Biosciences uses a chip to read the biomarkers using GMR technology.

As for Elizabeth Holmes, she was found guilty on four out of eleven counts on January 3, 2022. She will face imprisonment for 20 years. Elizabeth will be sentenced on September 26, 2022.

The Dropout is available on Disney+ Hotstar and Hulu.

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