After raising almost half a billion dollars in funding since being founded in 2014, Hyperloop One is shutting down.
As Bloomberg reports, the once hyped-up transportation startup — which planned to revolutionize travel from city to city by blasting us through vacuum tubes at breakneck speeds — has laid off most of its staff.
The company is also trying to sell off the test track it built near Las Vegas as well as its remaining machinery.
It's a bittersweet moment and a farewell to a futuristic idea that clearly was either ahead of its time — or dead on arrival, depending on the way you look at it.
Series of Tubes
It all started with Elon Musk releasing a white paper about his vision for the Hyperloop back in 2013. The concept was deceptively simple: passengers would be whooshed through low-pressure tubes inside sleek pods, in a transportation dream that would be faster than a train but without having to go through security or airports.
"How would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, it goes 3 or 4 times faster than the bullet train," Musk wrote. "It goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do."
Over the years, the idea caught on with investors. Virgin CEO Richard Branson joined the company's board in 2017, rebranding the venture as Virgin Hyperloop One.
But five years later, Virgin yanked its branding and pivoted to carrying cargo and not passengers. Even at the time, the company was already in dire straits, laying off half of its employees in early 2022.
Earlier this year, the company merged with a shell company, per Bloomberg. Shares slumped to a value of zero cents.
Dubai-based conglomerate DP World, which invested in Hyperloop One since 2016 and owns a majority stake, was behind the move and will receive the remaining IP, according to Bloomberg's sources.
In the nine years of its existence, Hyperloop has failed to break ground on an actual working Hyperloop.
But the idea isn't entirely dead just yet, even if Musk has largely abandoned it himself. There are several other companies that are still working on the concept, as Bloomberg points out, including the California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which has four prototypes in the work.
The company is still optimistic about opening a loop that connects Cleveland and Chicago by the end of the decade. But given Hyperloop One's fate, we'll believe it when we see it.
More on the Hyperloop: SpaceX Dismantles Hyperloop Prototype to Build a New Parking Lot
Share This Article