Max Polyakov is an international entrepreneur in the information and space technology sector. He is a managing partner in the Noosphere Ventures investment fund and founder of several international companies, including Firefly Aerospace, EOS DA, Space Electric Thruster Systems (SETS), Renatus, and MaxMiser.
Starting in 2001, Max Polyakov has created several IT companies:
- It-Ukraine, an outsourcing project that developed software for customers from the USA, Canada, and Europe.
- EasyDate (later Cupid Plc).
- Murka, a social casino games company.
- Renatus Media, a Menlo Park-based mobile game developer.
- Noosphere Ventures Partners LP (N.V.P.) investment fund. This fund supports the digital economy, engineering, and space technology startups.
- EOS DA, which creates tools for processing and analyzing satellite data, combined into a single cloud platform.
In April 20201, Polyakov purchased a majority stake in Dragonfly Aerospace, a South Africa-based company developing compact high-performance imaging satellites with a wide range of spectrums.
In 2011, Polyakov received his postgraduate degree in International Economics from Dnіpropetrovsk National University, Ukraine. In 2013, he received a Ph.D. in international economics. His thesis was "Development paradigm model for IT-technologies in the world economy and forms of its implementation." In 2020, he received his doctorate in economic science.
Polyakov founded the non-profit public organization Association Noosphere, which supports STEM.
Polyakov initiated an annual international engineering startup competition called Vernadsky Challenge. Winners of this competition receive grants for the development of their projects and expert support from leading international companies.
Max Polyakov supports academician Volodymyr Vernadsky's theory about the biosphere, according to which the next stage in its evolution is the noosphere. The noosphere is based on the creative interaction between human and nature. It believes that it is the main driving factor in the development of the planet, as well as for the preservation and rejuvenation of its resources. These are the principles Max Polyakov’s social and business activities are focused on.
Maxym Polyakov (Maxym Valeriovich Polyakov)
Maxym Polyakov, born on June 30, 1977, in Zaporizhzhya, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, is a Ukrainian-American space and IT entrepreneur, economist, investor, and philanthropist.
Founder and co-founder of an aerospace company Firefly Aerospace, IT company EOS DATA Analytics, Maxymiser, HitDynamics, Murka LLC, Cupid plc, and Renatus. Acting initiator for establishing the non-profit public government organization "Association Noosphere", the Noosphere Engineering School (Ukraine). General partner at Noosphere Ventures Partners LP.
Education and scientific activity
Max Polyakov was born in a family of engineers from Hartron, a Ukrainian space and rocket factory.
In 2011, he graduated from Dnipro University.
In 2013 he obtained a degree in international economics, completing a thesis "Implementation of the paradigmatic model of information development of the world economy."
In 2001, after graduating from university, Polyakov created his first company AlarIT Ukraine, which was engaged in outsource software development for foreign clients.
In 2005, Max Polyakov’s biography took a different turn. He partnered up with a British investor Bill Dobby and created the IDE Group, headquartered in Edinburgh. This business group had several projects, including Cupid plc, Murka, HitDynamics, Maxymiser and other.
Since 2006, Mr. Polyakov has been working on local IT projects in Ukraine, including aggregator sites price.ua, avtopoisk.ru, trud.com, naydidom.com, sravni.com. The offices were located in Dnipro, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya, and Kyiv.
In 2006, the partners sold their HitDynamics project to Hitwise.
In 2010, the service Cupid plc under Polyakov's management went public (Initial Public Offering) of the London Stock Exchange. One year later, the company is recognized as the most rapidly growing tech project according to Deloitte.
At the peak of popularity, Polyakov's dating asset Cupid plc. was estimated at $204.9 million. In 2012, the company's revenue from dating amounted to $125.4 million, and the capitalization reached $204.9 million. In 2013, when Max Polyakov had already left Cupid, journalists from BBC Radio and Kyiv Post suspected the company of creating fake accounts on its dating sites.
In 2012, Max Polyakov founded Renatus, a mobile gaming company that produces software for the Apple Store, Google Play, Amazon, and Facebook. The same year, Polyakov moved to the United States, Silicon Valley, Menlo Park, California. There he became a co-founder of the venture capital fund Noosphere Venture Partners.
In 2015, another project, Maxymiser, was bought by the American corporation Oracle.
EOS DATA Analytics
Since 2015, Max Polyakov’s biography has taken another rapid turn. He switches from IT projects to space technologies and creates EOS DATA Analytics headquartered in the USA, with offices in Ukraine. EOS is developing and implementing a cloud platform for satellite data processing and analysis. There are several hundred active ERS (Earth remote sensing) satellites in Earth orbits, and the EOS Platform is designed to help make use of the information obtained from them. Hundreds of government institutions, commercial companies, public, and scientific organizations worldwide use EOS DA tools.
In 2019, with the financial support from the EU, the World Bank initiated a satellite monitoring project for agricultural use, implemented by EOS, which won the tender for the Land Transparency program.
The businessman involved Ukrainian scientists and engineers to work on the Firefly Alpha rocket, which significantly accelerated the development process.In 2017, Noosphere Ventures bought the US aerospace startup Firefly Systems, founded by an engineer Tom Markusik, previously employed by Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX. In May 2018, Firefly's R&D Center, employing 140 Ukrainian experts, was opened in Dnipro.
Inspired by the idea of the New Space – making space launches cheaper by innovating space technology, in 2014, Markusik created his own company to build light and medium-class launch vehicles Alpha and Beta. However, the attracted investments were not enough, and in two years, the project appeared on the verge of closure. Max Polyakov supported Markusik's ideas, gave the company a second chance and a new name — Firefly Aerospace.
In November 2018, Firefly Aerospace became one of the companies chosen by NASA for the moon exploration program with a $2.6 billion budget.
In 2019, Firefly signed an agreement with Aerojet Rocketdyne, a former division of Boeing.
In November 2019, the 1st and 2nd stage engines were successfully tested. The team is getting ready for the first launch of the Alpha rocket, which is planned for 2020 from the SLC-2W launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
In 2019, the US Air Force selected Firefly to take part in the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4).
In December 2019, a group of primary shareholders of Firefly Space Systems filed a lawsuit alleging fraud and intentional bankruptcy of Tom Markusik's company. According to the defendants, including Dr. Polyakov, the lawsuit was provocative and the plaintiffs' claims unfounded — especially three years after the Firefly Aerospace achieved significant success. The lawsuit is pending.
In April 2020, Firefly announced an agreement with Spaceflight, which is scheduled to launch in 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
In May 2020, Firefly received AS9100 certification, and the team moved from development to the production phase of the Alpha launch vehicle.
On September 3, 2021, a FireFly Alpha rocket was terminated several minutes after launch from the US Space Force's Vandenberg base in California. The launch was considered successful as the rocket achieved the ignition of the first stage, liftoff, and progression to supersonic speed. Firefly Aerospace raised $ 75 million to prepare for this launch.
NES – Noosphere Engineering School
In 2014, Polyakov initiated the establishment of an engineering school, Noosphere Engineering School (NES), in Dnipro. NES is a series of labs created on the basis of technical departments of leading Ukrainian universities, where students have an opportunity to gain special knowledge in engineering and advanced technologies, test and execute their innovative ideas. In 5 years, NES has opened seven laboratories in Dnipro, Cherkasy, Kyiv, Zhytomyr, and Rivne.
In 2016, Polyakov created a non-profit public organization, the Noosphere Association, which organizes and conducts specialized space tech and scientific events. Since 2015, Noosphere has been cooperating with the World Air Sports Federation (FAI, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) and organizing rocket modeling events.
The most popular events include the robotics festival BestRoboFest and the engineering startups competition Noosphere Vernadsky Challenge. In 2017, the MythBusterJames Hyneman attended Vernadsky Challenge as a jury member.
The Association Noosphere is also working to improve Dnipro city infrastructure. In 2019, they renovated Gagarin Park and are now renovating the planetarium.
Married, father of 4 children.
Awards and achievements
2009 — "Entrepreneur of the Year" in Scotland according to Ernst & Young.
2017 — Honorary FAI award for his contribution to the improvement of sports event management and scoring systems.
2018 — awarded the National Prize of Ukraine "Man of the Year" for "For significant contribution to the revival of Ukrainian space."
In 2018, Cambridge University Press published a book about entrepreneurs, including Max Polyakov, who influenced the formation of the US economy: Hammer and Silicon: The Soviet Diaspora in the US Innovation Economy — Immigration, Innovation, Institutions, Imprinting, and Identity Paperback.
Firefly investor Noosphere Ventures eyes satellite manufacturing sector - SpaceNews.com
January 8, 2019
How Max Polyakov from Zaporozhie develops the Ukrainian space industry
Setting Cosmic Ambitions for Ukraine
March 12, 2020
Documentaries, videos and podcasts
Макс Поляков. NASA выбрала Firefly Aerospace для лунной программы.
Cedar Park, Texas, United States