Max Hodak Writings

How I angel invest

June 2020

Over the last year or so I have become increasingly active as an investor. It is a small percent of my time and energy — 99% of my attention is devoted to Neuralink — but the future is coming quickly now and there are many interlocking elements that are important to support, and so I am interested in doing that in whatever little ways I can. When I write posts that appear here my intended audience is often the people working on these ideas, to make myself modestly discoverable in case I can help support their work.

Making money is important for these activities to be sustainable — otherwise I’ll just lose all of my money and be unable to keep investing — but that is not why I do it. I happily pass on the exciting e-commerce app deals, for example, that get sent to me, both because I don’t really have the expertise to vet them and also because I just don’t really care. If my view of the next 15 years is correct, those things will all be noise, drowned out by the massive AI and biotech revolutions headed our way. It is important to me to use my limited resources to help advance those efforts and support smart, thoughtful founders and scientists so as to maximize the probability that the ultimate results are bright rather than dark.

I am most interested in meeting scientists and engineers who are working at the frontier of their field. Sometimes there is already a company, but that doesn’t really matter. The people I am looking for will have a track record of technical excellence, usually demonstrated through either impressive prior professional work that shipped in a real product or a compelling publication record. You should be working on things that, if successful, will have a such a large impact that it seems difficult to take seriously today. I’m happy to read papers to understand from first principles why what you’re trying to do makes sense; evidence of a large market that exists now is not only unnecessary, but often a bad sign. Most important is a clear reason to believe that you are capable of executing on your concrete technical vision.

I’m happy to hear from students who have relatively well defined asks for advice, but I’m unlikely to invest financially outside of exceptional circumstances. (Also, it’s ok to email me about full-time positions, but please don’t contact me about internships! Neuralink does not take very many undergrad interns, and I probably won’t be able to help you.)

In some limited cases I will also consider making grants in support of basic research. I am most likely to do this when there is a specific, bounded question that I agree would be really interesting to answer; the investigator already has the general infrastructure to answer the question and a history of answering similar questions; they have already been rejected for the typical grants or applying for one would add an unreasonable delay; and any overhead rate is low, allowing the money to be used effectively. But this is very rare.

When I meet a team doing interesting things that I resonate with, I can move fast, usually making a decision during the first or second meeting. This is important in order for these activities to take a small percent of my time, which is essential for me to balance them with my actual job. Relatedly, after investing I’m happy to make appropriate connections in my network and take your calls if you need a sanity check on something, but I won’t be able to put much time into helping operationally. On the plus side, this also means I won’t try and tell you how to run your company.

If you think you see yourself in the descriptions above, feel free to email me at Please don’t send me anything especially confidential (as a general rule, I won’t sign NDAs) or any complicated attachments.

So many things are possible today that were fantasies just a few years ago, and if you’re doing important work that meaningfully builds on that progress to improve the trajectory of our common future, I’d love to help support you.