George Shultz's Grandson Behind Downfall of Theranos

Tyler Shultz says relations between him and former secretary of state haven't been the same since
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2016 1:00 PM CST
Whistleblower at Theranos Has Famous Grandfather
Former Secretary of State George Shultz poses by a statue of his former boss, President Ronald Reagan, that was unveiled at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2015.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – A protective grandson outraged at what he saw at his workplace spurred the downfall of Theranos, and the Wall Street Journal has what Vanity Fair is calling a "devastating piece" on the whole affair. The man in question: Tyler Shultz, who in 2014 first noticed things were amiss—specifically Theranos' quality control and iffy research—and emailed founder Elizabeth Holmes to let her know. His grandfather: George Shultz, former US secretary of state and then a Theranos director (he's since been relegated to the "counselors" category). After sending his email, the younger Shultz was berated by President Sunny Balwani in an email—Balwani called his tone "arrogant and patronizing"—and quit that day. Shultz then filed the first reported regulatory complaint against Theranos under an alias and started talking confidentially to the Journal, which published articles that blew the scandal open.

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But his involvement has also blown his relationship with his grandfather apart: He tells the Journal that while he used to check in with George regularly, he's barely seen or spoken with him since, not even going in December to his grandfather's 95th birthday party (which, the Journal points out, was attended by Holmes). In the meantime, he's been dealing with his concerned parents, what he depicts as a Theranos attempt to strong-arm him into admitting he leaked trade secrets, and a possible private investigator on his tail. Perhaps the most distressing part for Tyler Shultz, who sources say is cooperating with the feds investigating Theranos: that his grandfather stayed on with the company after he blew the whistle, even after Tyler Shultz asked him to "do the right thing" at a July meeting that proved to be their last. (Read the Journal for some truly uncomfortable encounters between the two Shultzes.)

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