The Unsinkable Maddie Stone, Google’s Bug-Hunting Badass

The Project Zero reverse engineer shuts down some of the world’s most dangerous exploits—along with antiquated hacker stereotypes.

EVEN WITH A knee injury, Maddie Stone is formidable. As she sets up to do modified circuits at her San Francisco Olympic weightlifting gym—essentially a glorified garage and driveway that have been converted into an indoor/outdoor workout space—she’s totally at ease, even gleeful despite the chilly January fog. I joke nervously that if I end up puking in a trash can while Maddie is crushing reps, it’ll at least make for a good anecdote. Casually setting the clips on her loaded barbell she flashes one of her trademark grins. “You could probably make it happen!”

Stone’s smile and easy laugh may be her most recognizable traits, but her determination reveals itself quickly, too. Her bum knee has been keeping her from doing her preferred workouts—everything from wall stands to the rowing machine is now off limits—so she settles for modified lifts and grinds away on upper-body machines. (“Now is the time to get Michelle Obama arms.”) After years playing competitive tennis in her youth, Stone, now 29, is more used to knee surgeries than she would like. Moving her focus to Olympic lifting and hiking during her twenties didn’t help. Last year she even summited Mount Kilimanjaro.


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