© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
By Rachael Levy
(Reuters) – A founding member of Elon Musk’s Neuralink left the company in recent weeks, according to two people familiar with the matter, the latest in a string of departures at the brain implant startup.
Paul Merolla, who helped launch Neuralink in 2016 and worked on its chip design program, is no longer with the San Francisco area company, the sources said.
The reason for Merolla’s departure and his career plans could not be learned. Merolla, Musk and Neuralink representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
There were eight people, including Merolla and Musk, who helped set up Neuralink six years ago, according to the two sources. Merolla’s exit leaves only one Neuralink founding member, implant engineer Dongjin “DJ” Seo, remaining with the company other than Musk, who was listed in a January corporate filing as the company’s chief executive.
One of the other founders was Neuralink’s former president Max Hodak, who worked closely with Musk on its launch. It is not known if possible setbacks at Neuralink contributed to the departures.
Musk said in a 2019 presentation that Neuralink was aiming to receive regulatory approval for trials to implant chips into humans by the end of 2020, but the company has yet to receive such an approval or bring a product to market. Musk, who is also chief executive of electric car maker Tesla (NASDAQ:) Inc, has described Neuralink’s aspirations as offering “a Fitbit (NYSE:) in your skull.”
Prior to joining Neuralink, Merolla was a research scientist at IBM (NYSE:) Corp’s “brain-inspired computing group.”
The Fremont, California-based Neuralink has about 300 employees and counts Google (NASDAQ:) Ventures among its investors.