Richard Branson's Virgin Group invests in Hyperloop One

Richard Branson's Virgin Group invests in Hyperloop One

Richard Branson's Virgin Group has invested in Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles company that is developing a super-fast transport system and soon will change its name to Virgin Hyperloop One, the companies said Thursday.

Sir Richard has led an $85m (£65m) investment in Hyperloop One, a California-based company that is the first to successfully test the high-speed magnetic levitation technology. For somewhere shy of $85 million, the financial future of what Virgin calls "a responsible and sustainable form of transport" (in a press release that partially cribs from Wikipedia) ultimately amounts to a throwaway bet from a billionaire. As part of deal, the startup will rebrand as Virgin Hyperloop One and Branson will join the board.

A Hyperloop uses a pod to carry passengers or cargo through a low-pressure tube. He described the hyperloop concept as "a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table".

Hyperloop One is headed by Shervin Pishevar, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist best known as an early investor in Uber.

The startup had raised more than $200 million prior to Tuesday's announcement.

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Virgin Hyperloop One and similar companies still face obstacles before they can make their commercial debuts, including securing funds from governments to invest in the service and assuring passengers the high-speed tubes are safe for travel. Jalopnik reported last month that a proposed route in Colorado that Hyperloop One is interested in could cost at least $24 billion.

Branson said the company was working on "exciting projects" around the world but no lines have been confirmed as yet.

In July, Musk dropped the H-word in a tweet about the project: "Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop".

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