The finale of Hulu’s The Dropout ended this week, and if you haven’t watched it, you should. It’s not only the best of the tech founder series, but it’s one of the best series of the year thanks to incredible performances from Amanda Seyfried and made-to-look-unattractive Naveen Andrews, as well as a strong supporting cast (Stephen Fry, Michaela Watkins, William Macy, Alan Ruck, LisaGay Hamilton, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach, among others), a fascinating subject (the fall of Theranos), and the injections of comedy that Liz Meriweather (New Girl) brings to the drama.
When I finished the series, after ruminating upon Seyfried’s performance (and Elizabeth Holmes’s, ahem, “rebirth”), my first thought was: What happened to Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung, the two whistleblowers most responsible for taking down Theranos? Cheung and Shultz, the grandson of former Secretary of State George Schultz, collaborated to provide the basis for much of the Wall Street Journal’s reporting — Cheung also testified extensively against Holmes in the criminal trial against her).
What happened to Tyler Schultz? — Schultz is doing fine. He was not asked to testify against Holmes — he thinks his emails spoke for themselves — but he and his family did celebrate after the guilty verdict came down against Holmes (Holmes, who faces up to 20 years in prison, is currently awaiting sentencing). These days, Shultz is running his own biotech startup, Flux Biosciences, Inc, focused on women’s fertility issues, and while he would never become an Elizabeth Holmes, he concedes now that he’s a startup founder, he understands the high-pressure context that might create an Elizabeth Holmes. In 2017, Schultz was named to Forbes’ “30 under 30” list for those in the healthcare industry. Though his grandfather never formally apologized to Tyler, he did tell Tyler that he was right, and the two reconciled before George passed away in 2021.
What happened to Erika Cheung? Cheung is also doing well. Fittingly, she’s the co-founder of Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which is a nonprofit devoted to improving the ethics, culture, practices, and outcomes of emerging companies. She and Schultz also helped promote Alex Gibney’s documentary on Theranos.
Even having lived through the expereince, the documentary was really insightful and offered a fresh perspective on Theranos case. A cautionary tale any entrepreneur can learn from. https://t.co/XnVGLNTmTN— Erika Cheung (@ErikaMCheung) January 28, 2019
What happened to David Boies? — The lawyer who represented Theranos is and continues to be a big deal trial attorney, although he often defends unsavory folks. He defended Al Gore (not unsavory) in the 2000 election recount (he lost); he defended Napster (he lost); and he defended Harvey Weinstein and Jerry Jones (but not in criminal matters, but contractual ones), although his firm was also behind hiring spies to follow Weinstein’s victims. He also defended one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre.
What happened to Linda Tanner? — The Michaela Watkins character is a composite, but she’s mostly based on Heather King, who was brought in by Boies’ firm to be general counsel to Theranos. She left that position when Theranos was shut down and returned to Boies’s law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, although she left that firm in 2021 to take an in-house counsel position.
What happened to Rochelle Gibbons? — The suicide of Ian Gibbons was basically exactly as The Dropout depicts. Afterward, Holmes did not return the phone call of Gibbons’ widow, Rochelle, but Rochelle did hear from a Theranos office manager asking her to return company property. Rochelle still misses Ian, who she says was “as near to perfection, as a human could be.” She also found a small bit of satisfaction in the guilty verdict against Holmes, although she is concerned that Holmes will avoid jail time.
What happened to Richard Fuisz? Fuisz, the character with the large forehead played by William Macy, is still around, he’s pretty Trumpy, and mostly drops thoughts like this on Twitter these days:
[email protected] (@rfuisz) March 28, 2022
What Happened to Phyliss Gardner? — The professor played by Laurie Metcalf, one of the first to publicly oppose Elizabeth Holmes, is 71 and still professoring at Stanford. She’s also the founder of several biotech companies.
What happened to Jay Rosan? — The family doctor/Walgreens executive who brokered the deal between Theranos and Walgreens is still apparently associated with Walgreens. This is his last tweet, which is hilarious because the guy who can’t figure out how to use Twitter or what his iPhone password is is the same guy who compelled Walgreens to spend $50 million on a shady, unproven tech startup. That tracks.
@1Password I am having significant problems - my iPhone account suddenly is not accessible and I have used my master password. My Mac 1password account works but my logins are not the same as on my iPhone. Help please— Jay Rosan (@jrosan) August 19, 2020
What happened to Judith Baker? — The WSJ Editor-in-Chief played by LisaGay Hamilton is actually based on an old white man, Gerard Baker, who describes himself as a “right-wing curmudgeon.” That is, sadly, fitting. He stepped down in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief of the WSJ and took a gig as Editor-at-Large, where he created controversy by penning an article suggesting that Black people commit more hate crimes than white people without any real evidence to back up the claim. He also suggested that after Biden was elected, Trump supporters would be forced into “re-education programs.” He’s a real piece of work.