Hyperloop One now has not one but two well-known billionaire industrialists backing it. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, will be joining the Board of Directors at Hyperloop One. We don’t know the terms of the investment, but it must be significant, considering that the project will be renamed “Virgin Hyperloop One.”
In September, the project raised an additional $85 million to bring the total to a little shy of $250 million. It is now valued in the neighborhood of $700 million. Although Branson chose not to reveal his share in the investment, the name change indicates a significant level of investment in the super-fast transportation system.
Essentially, this is an investment in a dream by wealthy backers. There’s no proof of concept, no revenues and not even the requisite government approvals to get the project off the ground. But people aren’t investing in Hyperloop; they’re investing in Musk, who’s shown that he can get things done. He’s revolutionized not only the century-old automobile industry, but is now making some serious gains in space travel. In addition, his push into power storage as a result of the successes with Tesla batteries is now slowly taking the Powerwall home power storage product line into the mainstream market.
And with the Boring Company tunnel project, Elon surprised everyone by putting his own money where his mouth is. This despite the fact that he initially intended to open-source the idea. Hyperloop One founder Shervin Pishevar maintains that Elon was is inspiration, but still holds that his company was the only one to ever build a full-scale test track, which is in the Nevada desert.
The Verge has indicated that Branson is now a major stakeholder, which is quite possible, as we indicated. The next step is government approval to get things moving in the US as well as in the UK, where Branson hopes to cut travel time between London and Edinburgh to 45 minutes. According to Google Maps, The current transit time between the two cities, by train, is between four and five and a half hours, and that’s on Virgin Trains with maximum speeds of 125 mph.
Assuming that the newly re-christened Virgin Hyperloop One can complete its first commercial project successfully, it could put us on the verge of a new form of rapid transit that will eventually dot the world’s largest cities, cutting travel times by significant amounts and tremendously increasing the productivity of regular users of the system.