Virgin Hyperloop lays off half of its employees, abandons public transport

Virgin Hyperloop has laid off nearly half of its staff and abandoned plans to develop a passenger transport system, the company confirmed this week.

The company – which envisions a high-speed “vacuum tube” transportation system with hulls traveling up to 670 miles per hour – will focus instead on shipments.

Virgin Hyperloop confirmed the company is “changing direction,” adding that the shift in focus is largely related to the need for a more robust transportation system when it comes to transporting goods. It’s a weakness in the global supply chain, especially exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is thought that Virgin’s quick pods could be a solution to moving a lot of goods quickly.

“It allows the company to respond in a more agile and agile way and in a more cost-effective way.” Virgin Hyperloop told the Financial Times its abandonment of public transport in favor of focusing on freight “These kinds of decisions should never be taken lightly.”

Two people affected told the newspaper the layoffs were conducted by video conference. According to one of the sources, the number of job cuts was “certainly not expected”. The company said 111 people have been laid off.

The move to freight marks a significant shift for Virgin Hyperloop, which is reportedly considering listing through a merger with a special-purpose acquirer, or SPACs.

Virgin Hyperloop
The company – which envisioned a high-speed “vacuum tube” transportation system – will focus on shipments instead.
The Washington Post via Getty Im

Virgin Hyperloop would not comment on those plans, but told the FT it “continues to invite long-term investors to share our vision for the future of transportation”. The company has raised over $400 million from investors to date.

DP World, the majority owner of the Dubai-based Virgin Hyperloop, told the paper the company may reconsider passenger travel once the freight services come online.

“It is clear that potential customers are interested in cargo, while passengers are somewhat further away,” DP World said in a statement. “Focus on pallets that are easier to handle – less risk to passengers and less management processes.”

Formerly known as Hyperloop One, the company was founded to pursue the vacuum tube technology first outlined by billionaire Elon Musk. Hyperloop One changed its name to Virgin Hyperloop in 2017 after billionaire Richard Branson joined the board.

End of 2020, Virgin Hyperloop be the first company to conduct a successful test of the technology with passengers. Virgin Hyperloop lays off half of its employees, abandons public transport


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