The Theranos Whistleblower: An Interview with Tyler Shultz

Ann Skeet, Markkula Center, Santa Clara University, Joan Lee, Fairfield University, Sarah Cabral, Boston College
August 17, 2020
North America
Ethics & Social Justice, Strategy & General Management
22 pages
Whistleblowing, ethics, organizational blocks, Corporate Governance, leadership
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In this video case, Tyler Shultz recounts his experience as a recent college graduate in 2014 at Theranos, a medical technology start-up. After starting his job as a research engineer on the assay validation team, which was responsible for verifying the blood tests run on Theranos’ Edison machine, Tyler noticed significant quality control failures. In the video, Tyler explains the issues he encountered and how he decided to blow the whistle on the company. He first expressed his concerns internally, but faced such hostility that he resigned from the company after eight months of employment. After Tyler left Theranos, a Wall Street Journal reporter, John Carreyrou, reached out to him and asked him about his time at Theranos. Initially,Tyler did not want to share his story, as his grandfather, George Shultz, was a board member of Theranos and did not support Tyler’s claims. Ultimately, Tyler became an anonymous source for Carreyrou, despite hefty personal and financial costs.

Find the video case here.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Identify the organizational and personal challenges faced by whistleblowers.
  2. Describe why some employees decide to blow the whistle, while other employees choose to stay silent.
  3. Describe the role a board properly plays in corporate governance.
  4. Reflect upon Tyler’s decision to blow the whistle, in light of the specific organizational and personal challenges he faced.