Two months ago, Virgin Group, headed by Richard Branson, made a major investment in Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles–based startup looking to make Elon Musk’s transportation revolution a reality. As a result of that investment, Richard Branson obtained a seat on the board of directors and the company set about rebranding itself as Virgin Hyperloop One.
This week, Virgin Hyperloop One made the headlines 3 times. First, it announced it has set a new speed record of 240 miles per hour in its latest testing protocol. That is 20 mph faster than the speed claimed by SpaceX earlier this year. The latest round of testing was conducted inside the company’s 1600-foot-long test track, which had been depressurized to simulate the atmosphere at 200,000 feet above the earth. Removing air from the chamber, the Hyperloop pad travels in reduced wind resistance, making it possible to go faster with less energy.
The Hyperloop One pod also uses magnetic levitation to lower friction. The latest test was designed to assess the capabilities of a new airlock design that will make it possible to switch pods in and out of the fast moving stream of pods travelling inside the main tube without breaking the vacuum seal in the high-speed sections of the Hyperloop.
Second, the company also announced this week that Branson will step up to become the non-executive chairman of the board after former chairman and co-founder Shervin Pishevar was moved aside after charges of sexual misconduct were leveled against him.
Third, despite those charges, Axios reports the company has secured an additional $50 million in funding from Russia’s Caspian Venture Capital and Dubai’s DP World. It had been skirting dangerously close to insolvency, but the injection of new funds will allow it to keep operating. “I am excited by the latest developments at Virgin Hyperloop One and delighted to be its new Chairman,” says Branson in a company press release. “The recent investment by our partners Caspian Venture Capital and DP World sets up the company to pursue opportunities in key markets in the Middle East, Europe, and Russia as it develops game-changing and innovative passenger and cargo ground transport systems.”
With the new investment by Caspian Venture Capital and DP World, Hyperloop One has now raised close to $300 million since its founding in 2014. “This investment provides Virgin Hyperloop One with a very robust financial platform for 2018 ahead of our Series C round of fundraising. We are so proud to have investors who consistently step-up to support our company and our vision,” said Virgin Hyperloop One’s CEO Rob Lloyd. “We continue to see extremely strong interest from world leaders globally looking to embrace Hyperloop to address critical infrastructure challenges. Our focus in 2018 will be on accelerating commercial agreements for both passenger and cargo projects.”