Max Hodak

Education

BSE, Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, 2012

Neuralink (President, 2017 - Present)

Neuralink is developing the world's most advanced brain-machine interfaces.

Transcriptic (CEO, 2012 - 2017)

Having grown up programming, where people invent whole new languages when they get tired of typing too many semicolons, the sheer inefficiency of pressing a physical button on the plate reader every three hours for two days to gather the data I needed struck me pretty quickly. Automation had been around for biology for a long time, but it was prohibitively expensive and difficult to use. For that matter, all lab equipment was prohibitively expensive and difficult to use.

Borrowing the metaphor from what cloud computing had done to software, the idea of creating a robotic cloud laboratory for biology seemed obvious. I founded Transcriptic right after I graduated from college and over my five years as CEO raised over $30M from Google Ventures, IA Ventures, Data Collective, Silicon Valley Bank, and others; and grew the business to millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Transcriptic merged with 3scan in early 2019 and lives on today as Strateos.

MyFit (CEO, 2009 - 2010)

Senior year of high school, concerned I had no future, I talked my guidance counselor's office into giving me print-outs of the GPA vs SAT vs decision scatterplots of our school's historical admission statistics to various colleges nominally for a student newspaper article. I entered all of the data into Excel using a ruler and built statistical models to estimate just how unlikely I was to get into an elite college. Modeling the admissions process as a sequential move game with simultaneous move subgames, I decided to apply early decision to Duke to minimize my odds of failing to get into a great school. Looking back, this whole thing was a little excessive and I probably would have been fine, but I don't know, college admissions were stressful and ridiculous.

I spent the summer before college turning these models into an app for the new Facebook Platform, which slowly snowballed into MyFit over the next two years. The big idea we ultimately developed, but never got to, was to use long-term outcomes data to underwrite student loans. Student loans are weird in that the borrower is likely to be nominally bankrupt at the time of origination but has a case for an eventual ability to repay. If we could securitize the value created by the diploma, we could drive vast amounts of new money into the asset class while also enabling both borrowers and lenders to be more informed about what they were getting and why they were doing it. I took a year leave of absence after sophomore year of college after I raised $1 million from New Enterprise Associates and ran the company as CEO until it was acquired by Naviance 15 months later.

Nicolelis Lab, Duke University (Research Assistant, 2008 - 2009, 2010 - 2012)

For as long as I can remember, my ultimate life goal has been to get a brain-machine interface and disappear into the Matrix. I was fortunate that Duke had, at the time, one of the best neural engineering labs in the world. Having worked my way into the Nicolelis lab through an independent study during my freshman year, I proceeded to spend most of my time in college there learning everything I could.

I presented a poster at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting as a sophomore in 2008 and my main project for much of my time in the lab was studying how differing mappings between joystick-space and screen-space in an upper limb task for macaques led to changes in neural representations. I was only seriously derailed by silently broken timestamps in the ephys data once during my whole time in the lab.

Talks

Other

Contact

Email: router@maxhodak.com

PGP Key: 58EC0CD4

A note on contacting me: I get a lot of emails and in practice very rarely reply, which I feel bad about. Often it's not immediately clear to me how to reply and so I move on intending to think more but simply don't end up coming back to it. The more specific your message is and easier to reply to, the more likely I am to do so. In particular, please don't contact me about internships at Neuralink. If you're interested in working at Neuralink full-time, please apply through Neuralink's website, but it's fine to follow up with me if that process seems stalled or if you think I'd particularly understand your background. If you're writing to pitch me your company, please read my article on how I angel invest first. Similarly, if you're asking for startup advice, please see my article on advice for prospective startup founders first. I do especially try to respond to questions from students, but the more specific you can be, the more likely I am to have something for you.