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Hyperloop One is working on a transportation technology that can make trains go as fast as 760 miles per hour. And today, the company said it has raised $50 million from the port of Dubai and others to explore building a high-speed transportation system to move cargo.
The deal comes on a previous announcement to explore building a high-capacity passenger transport system in Moscow and a $80 million funding in May. The company was able to close that deal and add a new chief financial adviser in spite of bad publicity from four former high-ranking employees who accused Hyperloop One’s of corporate misgovernance in a lawsuit.
Hyperloop One said it has added Brent Callinicos, former chief financial officer of Uber, as its chief financial advisor. Callinicos helped Uber raise billions of dollars as it went from 300 employees to 3,000, and he also once invested billions of dollars while treasurer at Google. He is working full-time at Hyperloop One, and Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, said in an interview with VentureBeat that his company will need to raise billions of dollars in the next few years to fund the company and realize its vision of building lightning-fast transportation networks in cities around the world.
“This is great news to have a strategic investor” like the port of Dubai on board, Lloyd said.
The funding brings the total financing raised by Hyperloop One to $160 million since its founding in 2014. DP World Group of Dubai, the third largest port operator in the world, led the round. The port company recently announced an agreement with Hyperloop One to explore a system to move containers from ships docked at its flagship Port of Jebel Ali to a new inland container depot in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Hyperloop One faces a lawsuit filed in July by Brogan BamBrogan, who was chief technology officer; William Mulholland, who was finance vice president; Knut Sauer, who was business development vice president; and David Pendergast, who was assistant general counsel. They accused the company of favoring family or friends in hiring and contracting decisions, and they say they were fired after they challenged the management team. Hyperloop One denied the allegations and countersued, accusing four former employees of staging a failed coup, stealing company secrets and planning to set up a competing company.
Regarding the lawsuit, Lloyd said the company is moving forward and does not believe it will impact development.
“This company is looking forward,” he said.
With this strategic investment, DP World’s Group Chairman and CEO His Excellency Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem will be joining Hyperloop One’s board, providing the company with deep expertise in complex cargo handling and a global mindset that comes from operating a portfolio of 77 marine and inland terminals in six continents.
“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 Sulayem, in a statement. “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.”
Also joining the Hyperloop One board is Ziyavudin Magomedov, chairman of The Summa Group, a holding company with investments in port logistics, engineering, construction, telecommunications, and the oil and gas sectors. It employs more than 25,000 people in almost 40 regions of Russia and abroad. Magomedov’s Caspian VC Partners fund has been a strategic and early investor in Hyperloop One.
ATEL Ventures is also providing Hyperloop One with new equipment financing for its capital expansion as it continues to build out its 100,000-square-foot Metalworks fabrication facility and 137-acre Apex test and safety site in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Construction of the company’s full-system development loop is underway as Hyperloop One prepares for its “Kitty Hawk moment” in the first quarter of 2017.
“The most important milestone is the demonstration of the full-scale system in North Las Vegas,” Lloyd said. “That will be our Kitty Hawk moment, and it will show that Hyperloop is real.”
After the addition of Callinicos to the team, Hyperloop One cofounder and executive chairman Shervin Pishevar said in a statement, “I have always dreamed of having someone of Brent’s caliber and experience join our senior team at Hyperloop One. Brent has participated from a front row seat in the growth and development of some of the most iconic companies in the world. I saw first hand his contributions to Uber when it scaled from 300 employees to 3,000-plus, launched hundreds of cities and raised billions of dollars. His experience will be invaluable as we prepare for the next stage in our funding and development.”
Callinicos reciprocated, saying “After such an exciting and rewarding career at world-changing, industry-leading, companies like Uber, Google and Microsoft, it seemed improbable that I would find another opportunity to make the same kind of positive impact on the world. But it seems that the stars have aligned with my recent move to Los Angeles and I am thrilled to join Hyperloop One as Chief Financial Advisor at this incredible moment,” in a statement.
Hyperloop One has 200 employees. Studies are underway in Dubai, Finland, Sweden, Russia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.S. (in Los Angeles). The company is also holding a contest to receive proposals for Hyperloop systems around the globe, and it has received 1,438 entries so far. The company will whittle those down and focus on choosing a first project by the summer of 2017. Hyperloop One hopes to start building a first route in 2018 or 2019.
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