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Theranos, whistleblowing and speaking truth to power | Erika Cheung

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. In 2014, Erika Cheung made a discovery that would ultimately help bring down her employer, Theranos, as well as its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, who claimed to have invented technology that would transform medicine. The decision to become a whistleblower…

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

In 2014, Erika Cheung made a discovery that would ultimately help bring down her employer, Theranos, as well as its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, who claimed to have invented technology that would transform medicine. The decision to become a whistleblower proved a hard lesson in figuring out how to do what’s right in the face of both personal and professional obstacles. With candor and humility, Cheung shares her journey of speaking truth to power — and offers a framework to encourage others to come forward and act in the service of all.

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53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sonja Warriar

    November 26, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    Please people lets wake up before its too late:
    🔥🤑💥💀Please read/listen toThe Plantom Virus 📖 book from Amazon.It’s all there, all documented. And to wrap it up, ” The writing is on the wall:” Maligned, scraggly Christmas🎄at the heart of Nation( brought 4 years ago from a front yard 😳, and cared for by ……- Iohud Local Newspaper on Christmas tree )with a baby owl hidden into it’s branches: The tree is a symbol of the land 🇺🇸 (strength and freedom)and a owl is compared with dragons 🇨🇳 in the Bible, and in different cultures a symbol of vigilance, fierce intelligence, silence,preparation, *transition( freedom – communism) evil and death.

  2. Avatar

    TheREALLYBADGAMERS

    November 26, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    In the age of today’s technology, how is it that people who can easily record what is going on to provide evidence to back up their claims, choose to not do so? That way it’s harder for others to oppose them when confronted with the truth

  3. Avatar

    artevix

    November 26, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    That’s an example of an ethical employee. Regardless of consequences, she revealed the truth

  4. Avatar

    Overonator

    November 26, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    Strengthen whistleblower protections. That’s the answer.

    • Avatar

      thinkabout

      November 26, 2020 at 10:00 pm

      BINGO 👍

  5. Avatar

    Garrett Hoyos

    November 26, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Mad respect for you girl

  6. Avatar

    rschandran

    November 26, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you Erika for an excellent narrative from the “Whistleblower” about THERANOS. This is very typical of how “CULT” following starts and “PROPAGATES” until the “CHILD(FEARLESS HONESTY)” calls out the “EMPEROR WITHOUT CLOTHES”. Oh, how timely this was for me when we can relate this even to the crazy, no, insanity that was pervasive for the past 4 years under President TRUMP and his cult following.

  7. Avatar

    Youtube Freak

    November 26, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    The Great Reset will only end if we ALL choose to say “No”… “WORLD ‘NO’ DAY” DEC 20 2020

  8. Avatar

    Jane Nicolas

    November 26, 2020 at 10:20 pm

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  9. Avatar

    Steve Muratore

    November 26, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    On this Thanksgiving Day 2020, I’m very thankful for whistleblowers like Erika Cheung.

    • Avatar

      Patsy Stone

      November 27, 2020 at 3:12 am

      I am thankful as well!

  10. Avatar

    Derek Elliott

    November 27, 2020 at 12:04 am

    It’s being terrified and still doing what’s right that makes you a hero Erika

  11. Avatar

    jr john

    November 27, 2020 at 12:07 am

    She looks amazing

  12. Avatar

    Jack

    November 27, 2020 at 1:01 am

    The reason Theranos happened in the first place was because women were too busy inhaling their own feminist farts to notice they were being lied to by a conwoman.

    Great job ladies; keep worshipping anything with a vagina and don’t listen to any reason or common sense. Emotions are everything.

  13. Avatar

    martin johnstone

    November 27, 2020 at 1:49 am

    I’ve got 30 years in innovation and I take 3 things from this: 1. I rarely, if ever, hear people use the word risk when they talk about “moon shots”. 2. The questions about Theranos have so far not included the details of the financing, the sources of the financing and the details of the pitch that weren’t audited using basic due diligence. 3. Everyone I’ve heard speak never says they gave back the money they received while not running HACCP (hazard and critical control procedures) simultaneously. Process would have avoided this. Even classic 20th century stage gate would have flagged the problems much earlier on. Meanwhile, when this all gets in front of a jury, and it eventually will, the bias will be towards the triangle of fraud: need, opportunity and the ability to justify ones actions. Before anyone did the right thing, people will have to admit they did the wrong thing. Examples include Drexel Burnham Lambert, Salomon Brothers treasury auction scandal and Bernie Madoff. All from finance? Yes because Theranos, at its heart is a scandal within the so far unchecked VC community.

  14. Avatar

    Art Chemist

    November 27, 2020 at 1:51 am

    The sad part is that SOOO many researchers pick and choose their data points to make the results look better

    • Avatar

      Costa Conn

      November 28, 2020 at 11:40 pm

      I can’t believe no one else in the lab spoke up about this. A basic principle of science is that you must include all your data.

  15. Avatar

    Vaibhav Rawat

    November 27, 2020 at 1:56 am

    She is inspiring

  16. Avatar

    Doraemon Kawaii

    November 27, 2020 at 2:12 am

    Dear Erika, you have done the right things, that is the most important thing! You save human lives by uncovering Fraud. 👍

  17. Avatar

    Patsy Stone

    November 27, 2020 at 3:10 am

    If anyone believes in prayer, let’s pray for a worldwide viral infection of integrity! God bless every whistle-blower!

    • Avatar

      Steffi Marshall

      November 27, 2020 at 3:37 am

      🙏🙏

  18. Avatar

    Craig Keller

    November 27, 2020 at 5:31 am

    Outstanding young woman! All the best for her.

  19. Avatar

    Nigel Palmer

    November 27, 2020 at 6:28 am

    It’s lucky for her she didn’t find something dodgy about the American government or she would be dead or in Prison with Assange.

  20. Avatar

    Dimes

    November 27, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Edward Snowden likes this vid

  21. Avatar

    Steve

    November 28, 2020 at 9:41 am

    The sad truth is that in science fluff kills, but in business, fluff makes you rich

  22. Avatar

    Ben Dobson

    November 28, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Thank you Erika 💔.
    I understand completely.
    Why? That, I don’t understand.
    God bless you girl.
    You have my utmost love and respect.

  23. Avatar

    copudesado

    November 28, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Hey TED – why did you take down the Elizabeth Holmes talk? Own up to your mistakes, don’t try to hide them.

    • Avatar

      Scorpio Moon

      December 11, 2020 at 12:18 am

      Because it is the right thing to do. Why allow lies and misinformation?

  24. Avatar

    Susan

    November 28, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    I love and admire your integrity and grit. We need more people like you.

  25. Avatar

    Chris the Fem Cheerleader

    November 29, 2020 at 4:19 am

    Imagine the Whistleblowers at Trump Org. If they came forward.

  26. Avatar

    Los Revolucionarios

    November 29, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    BIDEN, OBAMA, CLINTON ALL SUPPORTED THERANOS AND ELIZABETH HOLMES

  27. Avatar

    Gaasuba Meskhenet

    November 29, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    “by the time you know something is wrong, it’s too late”
    it’s because we only go to the doctor when something feels wrong. Medicare for All would insure people get check ups

    • Avatar

      Scorpio Moon

      December 11, 2020 at 12:17 am

      You are absolutely right. I am afraid of the deductibles and co-insurance

  28. Avatar

    posh mistress

    December 3, 2020 at 3:23 am

    was ready to invest 50 k in that company omg…

  29. Avatar

    Ohmykitten

    December 4, 2020 at 4:51 am

    She’s a real fighter. I don’t even know her but I’m so proud of her.

  30. Avatar

    David Barnett

    December 5, 2020 at 4:42 am

    Elizabeth Holmes, is a freak monster.

  31. Avatar

    Hadaytullah Kundi

    December 6, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Denial, realization and acceptance are the three stages we all go through when faced with unexpected or troubling situations. She questioned her own sanity in the denial stage until the journalist and lawyer helped her to move to the realization stage and the rest is history.

  32. Avatar

    Ryan ;D

    December 7, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    yes teach those snowflakes to grow up.

  33. Avatar

    jlastre

    December 8, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    I have a MS in statistics. You really shouldn’t just throw out an “outlier” unless you have a good reason, justification, to throw out that data point. The data was so sparse in her case it hard to tell what an outlier is. Though even with more data an apparent outlier shouldn’t be thrown out unless there is a reason that observation might be incorrect.

  34. Avatar

    Christopher M Kelley

    December 9, 2020 at 4:00 am

    The sad part is she had the money and the smarts to have turned that into a reality. But the CEO was more into her money her stature her ego would not allow anyone r
    To question her complete and total lie she protected this lie with grandeos value in the people that backed her cause as many people that worked there not one of them did work on any device that remotely was her device.

  35. Avatar

    Cat

    December 12, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Her college struggles was already sad enough. Then Theranos just adds to her struggles

  36. Avatar

    Colleen Fitz

    December 14, 2020 at 12:01 am

    It would be nice to have “Speak Up” as the new mantra. Takes a lot of courage.
    People have been terrified to be a whistle blower, a squealer, a snitch, etc. Telling the truth can be deadly.
    Do the right thing – tell the truth. But be careful who you talk to. Reference: the Clintons, the Mafia, drug dealers, your neighbor, etc. etc.

  37. Avatar

    Lisa Love Ministries

    December 14, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Seek God’s will daily.
    John 14:6
    Matthew 10:28

  38. Avatar

    William O'Farrill

    December 19, 2020 at 6:25 am

    How can be possible she got sexually assaulted three times? to certain extent this is an indicator that something is “going on” with this woman, not as a victim, but from other points of views.

  39. Avatar

    Joe Moreno

    December 20, 2020 at 2:03 am

    This Erika Cheung is so FULL of It. She was scared to DEATH of Elizabeth Holmes. Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Holmes is morally bankrupt, BUT this woman had to be “coaxed” in becoming a whistleblower. Now she stands up here like some sort of hero. What a laugh.

    • Avatar

      nobodys baby

      January 1, 2021 at 10:11 pm

      It’s no joke to contemplate being a whistleblower. Most of these people are fairly intelligent & can well recognize what a narcissist with a large corporation’s resources can do to their life. She is a VERY brave girl. Coaxed or not.

  40. Avatar

    jakir ahmed

    December 20, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    From Bangladesh

  41. Avatar

    BladeBloodreaver

    December 23, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    If repeatiblity and reproduciblity of a single sample can not be proven, your test is BS. If your test was repeatible and producible, but wrong, ATLEAST then you could say it might be an issue with how the test is done. But if you can’t prove R&R you already have to go back to the drawing board entirely and figure what could cause these results. The answer is often too complex and best thing to do is either start over or make drastic changes, perform the same tests and compare results then.
    The whole Theranos project stank at concept being 10000s better than regular testing. I never believed this was possible and to fail at a lab controlled R&R test is just hilarious. Good on you to call them out and be the whistleblower. This device, if it were approved, couldve led to a lot of misdiagnosis and wrongful treatment based on a faulty testing machine. You saved lives and lots more money than the 9 billion this company was “worth”.

  42. Avatar

    Joe Magnets

    December 28, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    How do we stop the corruption? GET RID OF THOSE THAT CORRUPT….GUESS WHO THAT IS???
    Joe Magnets

  43. Avatar

    Joe Magnets

    December 28, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Nothing to do with competency, it has to do with MONEY that ‘our’ gov’t’ GIVES AWAY and those in charge of giving the MONEY AWAY…GUESS WHO THAT IS?
    Joe Magnets

  44. Avatar

    Sovereign Brand

    December 28, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    She’s lovely 😊

  45. Avatar

    D TEE

    January 1, 2021 at 1:12 am

    At the end of the day a thief is a thief; Elizabeth Holmes is simply a thief.

  46. Avatar

    Daniel Stag

    January 2, 2021 at 7:44 pm

    whistle blowers are scum look up the Chinese chick who was The First??
    And now we see that China has over 2 million spies deployed in the USA.

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