- Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO
- Theranos, the failed billion-dollar startup now facing criminal charges, was largely brought down with the help of whistleblowers within the blood-testing company.
- Two of those whistleblowers, Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz, have launched an organization that teaches ethical practices and decision-making to entrepreneurs building their own companies.
- The organization, called Ethics in Entrepreneurship, focuses on young entrepreneurs who are just starting their businesses.
Two of the whistleblowers who helped reveal allegations of fraudulent practices happening inside the once-revered blood-testing startup Theranos have launched a nonprofit to help other startups avoid a similar fate.
Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz have launched a nonprofit organization called Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which aims to help young entrepreneurs just starting out to prioritize ethical practices from the very beginning. Cheung and Shultz say on their website that the nonprofit “rose from the ashes of Theranos,” and is working to ensure ethics are made a priority for entrepreneurs and tech founders of the future.
“There were so many instances, even for someone like Elizabeth Holmes, to turn back and say, ‘I’m taking things a little too far here,'” Cheung told CNN. “I do think entrepreneurship can empower people and empower society, but we also have to not let things escalate to this degree.”
Cheung and Shultz both once worked for Theranos, the $9 billion startup that was supposed to revolutionize the blood testing industry. The two former employees helped shed light on the company’s allegedly faulty technology and inaccurate testing results. The woman at the head of the startup, Elizabeth Holmes, is facing charges of fraud and allegations she knowingly misled investors into giving her more than $700 million for Theranos.
Shultz played a key part in aiding the investigation of Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, who first exposed what was going on at Theranos. Shultz was a former research engineer at the company, and is also the grandson of former Secretary of State (and Theranos board member) George Shultz. Cheung used to work in the Theranos lab, and tipped off federal health regulators about Theranos.
Now, the two former Theranos employees are trying to prevent another Theranos from happening. The organization focuses on providing ethics trainings and resources for early-career entrepreneurs in particular, so that future founders are thinking about and prepared for ethical challenges that they could face later on. Those resources include access to a network of experts and entrepreneurs who aren’t just starting out in the industry – the idea is to connect those with less experience to those with more expertise, people who can provide guidance and additional context on important business decisions.
Ethics in Entrepreneurship is working to register as a nonprofit in both the United States and Hong Kong, where Cheung currently lives. The organization is currently taking donations on its website to support its efforts.