Up until Hyperloop One’s
Forbes cover shoot, which would launch the company into the public eye, Hyperloop One was still working out of a garage belonging to its chief technologist.
Right before the shoot, the company found room in a former ice factory, moving in before even signing a lease and rushing to make the space feel occupied before photographers came in.
This new information comes from New York Magazine’s Benjamin Wallace, who took a close look at Hyperloop One, which has seen everything from lawsuits to alleged death threats in recent months. Wallace describes a company that has been essentially held together by cofounder and chairman Shervin Pishevar’s sunny disposition and excellent salesmanship — a company that perhaps wasn’t quite ready for the spotlight.
According to the piece, Pishevar wanted Hyperloop One to get a big media exclusive to launch itself into the public eye. He was friends with then-Forbes technology editor Bruce Upbin (who has since joined Hyperloop One) and began working on a cover story with the company, somewhat ironically titled “Hyperloop is real: Meet the startups selling supersonic travel.”
Here’s how Wallace describes the days leading up to the Forbes shoot:
With the magazine deadline looming, the skeleton crew were unrolling carpets, [chief technology office Brogan] BamBrogan was making repeated trips to IKEA in his Audi sedan to buy 16 Vika Amon tables and 64 Vika Adil legs, and the company was buying 25 computers and 50 monitors. Some of the computers had only one graphics card and couldn’t actually run two monitors, but the superfluous equipment beefed up the apparent size of the company. The day of the shoot, BamBrogan and his co-workers scheduled a flurry of job interviews in the office so that more people would be around.
Apparently, the company’s rushed attempts to seem like it had a bustling, high-tech, successful business worked. After the story came out, Hyperloop One got more than 3,000 job applications and got some new attention from investors, according to New York Magazine.
But in recent months, Hyperloop One has gone through a series of accusations, legal actions, and resignations:
- BamBrogan has left the company and filed a lawsuit against Pishevar, his brother Afshin, CEO Robert Lloyd, and vice-chairman Joseph Lonsdale.
- In a countersuit, Hyperloop One alleges BamBrogan was part of a “Gang of Four” attempting to manufacture and incite conflict “in a transparent attempt to seize control of the company.”
- Afshin Pishevar was also forcibly removed from Hyperloop One headquarters after leaving an alleged noose on BamBrogan’s chair, who then tried to file a restraining order.
The New York Magazine piece goes into further detail on the complications within the company and where it’s headed now — according to Pishevar, that’s “t
owards Pangea again.” The story is lengthy, but well worth the read.