Forget about high-speed trains -- 700-mile-per-hour tube travel could become a reality within the coming months.
Hyperloop One announced today it has raised $50 million in new financing as the Los Angeles-based startup prepares to conduct a full-scale demonstration of its ultra-fast, tube-based transportation system in the first quarter of 2017.
The latest funding round brings Hyperloop One’s total amount raised to $160 million since its founding in 2014. The company also announced today that rock-star finance executive Brent Callinicos has joined the Hyperloop One executive team as a full-time strategic advisor to the CEO and board of directors. Callinicos recently served as CFO for Uber, helping the innovative ride-sharing company raise billions of dollars and grow from 300 to 3,000 employees. He has also held various high-level financial roles at Microsoft and Google.
Callinicos previously invested in Hyperloop One’s Series B fundraising round, and decided to join the company full-time after relocating from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd told The Verge. “We hope he can help us do the same things he helped Uber do in those early days,” he said.
Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk popularized the Hyperloop concept in 2013. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO released a white paper describing pods propelled by electromagnets on a cushion of air inside a pipeline that could transport people between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just 30 minutes. What’s more, he forecast that the project would cost 10 times less than California’s high-speed rail line currently under construction.
Musk isn’t the first person to conceive of building a high-speed transport network in a tube, which many technologists consider to be a fast, safe and affordable way to travel long distances. But Musk’s paper did help attract attention and talent to the technology. The idea is now gaining traction outside of white papers and PowerPoint presentations. Hyperloop One and competitor Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) are working to turn the concept into a reality.
Hyperloop One’s latest financing round was led by DP World Group of Dubai, the third-largest ports operator in the world, which recently signed an agreement to explore moving containers from ships docked at the Port of Jebel Ali to a new inland container depot in Dubai through a Hyperloop tube. This project, if built, would focus on shipping goods rather than people.
“DP World and Dubai are at the forefront of technological innovation in the transport and logistics industry, and we continue to seek opportunities to invest in and utilize our expertise to develop disruptive technology,” said DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. “We are exploring many innovations in our sector, and our collaboration with Hyperloop One is just one example illustrating our support of creativity and our commitment to research and development, using technologies to make our operations more efficient.”
With DP World’s strategic investment, Sulayem will join Hyperloop One’s board of directors. Also joining the board is Ziyavudin Magomedov, Russian billionaire and chairman of The Summa Group, a port and oil business. Magomedov’s Caspian VC Partners fund has been a strategic and early investor in Hyperloop One.
In addition to Dubai, Hyperloop One is conducting feasibility studies in Finland and Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the City of Moscow and the Port of Los Angeles. But the first real-world project will be in Nevada, where Hyperloop One is developing its technology. In May, the company conducted a public open-air test that shot pods down a track at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.
Hyperloop One announced ATEL Ventures is providing the company with new equipment financing for its capital expansion as it continues to build out its 100,000-square-foot fabrication facility and 137-acre Apex test site in North Las Vegas. Construction of the full-system development loop is already underway, with a prototype showcase scheduled for the first quarter of 2017. The Verge reports that competitor HTT has yet to conduct any public demonstrations.
“We are very proud to welcome our new investors, financial partners and board members to those who already share our passion and commitment to develop the next mode of transportation that will eliminate the barriers of time and distance,” said Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, said in a statement. “With a team of nearly 200 brilliant employees, the company is leading the way in the development of Hyperloop technology, and we are on track to show the world our full system early next year.”
Check out the stories below for more news and information on the Hyperloop: