The Dropout: Where Are They Now?

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‘The Dropout,’ a drama miniseries now streaming on Hulu, is based on a podcast of the same name produced by ABC News. The show chronicles the rise and fall of the biotechnology company Theranos and the journey of its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. It also explores the different people who were part of the company and contributed to this fascinating but ultimately ominous story about the perils of Silicon Valley’s startup boom. So, if you’re wondering where everybody is today, here’s what we know.

Where is Elizabeth Holmes Now?

When Elizabeth founded Theranos, she promised that their flagship testing device, Edison, could detect several medical conditions quickly only with a pinprick on a finger. Several influential investors backed the company, and the Stanford University, California, dropout was soon dubbed the “youngest self-made billionaire.” But beginning in 2015, a series of articles exposed the company as fake, with the test results being unreliable and the lofty claims being false.

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Elizabeth had lied about the accuracy of the tests and falsified validation reports to gain more funding. The company dissolved in 2018, and in January 2022, she was convicted on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, facing up to 20 years in prison for each count. Elizabeth, now 38, is scheduled to be sentenced in September 2022 and remains free on bond. She lives with her husband, Billy Evans, and their child in San Francisco, California.

Where is Sunny Balwani Now?

Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was the COO of Theranos until 2016. He met Elizabeth in the early 2000s before she dropped out of university. Later, the two became romantically involved and were secretly together for more than a decade. The authorities believed that Sunny was just as instrumental a hand as Elizabeth in the scam, with his trial beginning in March 2022. However, the defense contended that Sunny invested money because he genuinely believed in the company.

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Text exchanges between Elizabeth and Sunny were recently presented as evidence. One text from Sunny to Elizabeth read, “I am responsible for everything at Theranos.” During Elizabeth’s trial, she accused Sunny of emotional and sexual abuse, claims he has vehemently denied. The trial is expected to last three months, and Sunny remains free for the duration. From what we can tell, he still lives in California.

Where is Tyler Shultz Now?

In 2011, Tyler was in his 20s and still in college when he met Elizabeth Holmes. The idea that she pitched seemed interesting enough, and Tyler eventually went on to work at Theranos. However, he quit only after eight months and was the first to report the issues with the devices to regulators. As a biology major, Tyler quickly realized that the company was running tests on commercially available devices and not on Edison, their flagship device.

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Now in his 30s, Tyler Shultz was relieved that Elizabeth was convicted of her crimes. Talking about the verdict, he said, “All of a sudden, it was just a weight was lifted. It’s over. I can’t believe it’s over.” Today, he is the Co-founder and CEO of a biotechnology startup in the fertility field called Flux Biosciences. Tyler lives in Los Gatos, California. He is engaged to Carolynn Vuong, and the two are set to tie the knot in June 2022.

Where is Erika Cheung Now?

Erika Cheung was one of the whistleblowers that made the problems with Theranos’ devices and testing methods public. During Elizabeth’s trial, Erika testified regarding the accuracy of the machines, saying, “You’d have about the same luck flipping a coin as to whether your results were right or wrong. It was concerning to see this degree of failure; this was not typical for a normal lab.”

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Erika further stated that the data was often manipulated to keep the devices operational. Eventually, it got stressful for her to work at Theranos. Today, Erika advocates for a sense of morality in the tech industry. She co-founded Ethics in Entrepreneurship and splits her time between New York and California.

Where is John Carreyrou Now?

John had several years of investigative reporting in the field of medicine and health care when he came across Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. Starting in 2015, he wrote a series of articles for the Wall Street Journal exposing the company’s deceptive promises, thereby misleading investors and consumers. At that point, Elizabeth tried hard to stop the stories from coming out, even reportedly urging WSJ’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, to put a stop to the reporting.

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Nevertheless, John worked with Tyler and Erika to delve deeper into Theranos and eventually published a bestselling book about it, titled ‘Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.’ Apart from that, John now hosts a podcast titled ‘Bad Blood: The Final Chapter’ regarding the same case. He has since quit working for The Wall Street Journal and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Molly Schuetz, and their three kids. The award-winning reporter is now sharing his experience through speaking gigs.

Where is Richard Fuisz Now?

Elizabeth was longtime friends with the Fuiszes, who were her next-door neighbors. However, she filed a lawsuit against Richard, his two sons, and Fuisz Pharma, accusing them of stealing a Theranos idea, using it to file a rival patent instead. The case was eventually settled, with neither Elizabeth nor the Fuiszes getting anything from the patent.

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Richard later said of Elizabeth, “The girl has no scientific education. She is not very intelligent. She is more con than substance. She was interested in ‘How do you con people?’ Not ‘How do you win with substance?'” The 82-year-old’s family company holds several patents, and he seems to now live in Franklin, Tennessee, with his loved ones.

Where is Phyllis Gardner Now?

In 2002, Elizabeth approached Phyllis, a professor at Stanford Medical School, with an idea of a patch that would scan for infections and deliver the requisite antibiotics. Back then, Phyllis wasn’t convinced and tried to explain to Elizabeth why the patch wasn’t realistic. However, Elizabeth dropped out about a year later and founded Theranos, that ultimately dissolved after it came to the fore that the company made several false promises regarding what its devices could do.

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However, before that, Phyllis had heard rumors about Theranos. When students wanted Elizabeth to be a speaker at the university, she was against it. Phyllis said, “I support women. I always have. I’ve gotten in trouble for it. I’ve pushed hard. But I’m not going to support a fraud. I don’t care what your gender is.” The successful professor still teaches at Stanford and serves on the board of directors for companies such as Revance Therapeutics and CohBar. Apart from that, Phyllis founded several biotech companies and now seems to live on the university campus.

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