Michael Esquivel, a partner at Fenwick & West, was the first general counsel of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos. He had a long career in legal and tech roles, including at Walgreens, Tenneco and Enron.

He was also co-founder of the digital health group at Fenwick & West and counsels Rock Health.

Legal Counsel

Legal counsel is an important part of any organization. They provide advice on a range of legal issues, including contracts and employment law. They also help to ensure that companies comply with legislation and regulations.

Counsel may choose to specialize in a particular area of law, which can give them opportunities to focus on their strengths and talents. For example, a counselor might pursue criminal law, while another may concentrate on family law.

In this career, lawyers work to represent their clients in court and before government agencies (regulators). They provide legal advice and guidance to executives or the Board of Directors, prepare legal documents, and argue on behalf of an organization.

Michael Esquivel was the first-ever general counsel at Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that was eventually shut down. He subsequently worked with Calm, a company that offers music-streaming services to people looking for relaxation.

General Counsel

Currently a partner at Fenwick & West, Michael Esquivel is a nationally recognized corporate and securities lawyer with extensive experience representing emerging and high-growth companies in the healthtech, consumer, enterprise, software, fintech, cloud and internet industries. He regularly advises venture capital firms, strategic investors and investment banks that finance these companies.

He is a leader of the firm’s digital health group and advises clients on all aspects of general corporate and securities law, including formation and governance responsibilities, equity incentives and employment issues, intellectual property and commercial transactions. He also counsels clients on corporate restructuring and debt financings.

As a lawyer who served as general counsel for a venture-backed healthtech company, Michael brings a unique perspective to his work and an insider’s understanding of the legal challenges facing emerging companies. As a result, he is able to anticipate and meet the needs of these companies throughout their entire lifecycles.

In addition to serving as general counsel, Michael led the legal team at Calm Inc., which raised $75 million in Series C funding in December 2020. The company has since hired Lehot, a former head of corporate affairs and intellectual property at Stripe Inc., to lead its legal team and build its advisory outfit, Catalyze Advisors.

Chief Compliance Officer

In his first day as Theranos’s chief compliance officer, Michael Esquivel was told he needed to go on a mission. He was supposed to visit Walgreens, which had become one of Theranos’s biggest customers.

It was in the spring of 2013, when Theranos was making a big push to bring its blood testing technology to big retail partners. Walgreens had a long history of helping companies in the health-care industry.

The chain had been looking for ways to help its customers stay healthy, and it saw the blood-testing technology as an opportunity to do just that.

Several weeks passed, and nothing. He figured he had to be doing something wrong, so he started contacting other people in the company.

His requests were met with disdain. Then he got a call from Sunny Balwani, Holmes’s boyfriend and the head of the Theranos legal team.

Chief Technology Officer

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was a Silicon Valley superstar, gracing the cover of Time magazine and racking up billions in venture capital funding. Her fanciful blood-testing machine, the Edison, was supposed to revolutionize medicine. But when a report from journalist John Carreyrou revealed that it couldn’t do the job, the company and its investors were toast.

Former Theranos employees say Holmes’s obsession with secrecy and infatuation with technology shaped her company’s culture like no other. She demanded complete devotion from her employees, tasked her team with the job of designing and building a state-of-the-art test device, and even had a ringside seat at the company’s launch ceremony. But for all her glitz, she was also a shady tycoon who lied to investors and partners, and cheated her staff into believing their jobs were safe and secure. She stands accused of a string of fraudulent schemes that have cost hundreds of millions in lost investments, and she is on trial for fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

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