Hyperloop One, the once-promising futuristic transportation company, fell further into a legal morass with a new court filing that alleges one of the co-founders held a secret meeting in his garage to plot a takeover of the company.
Former co-workers accuse Brogan BamBrogan, the ousted chief technology officer and co-founder of Hyperloop One, of drawing up a list of employees he wanted to poach, discussing how to raise money, including $2 to $3 million to cover anticipated legal costs, for a new Hyperloop venture, and plotting to "steal" the company’s investors and patents. These new allegations were made by Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar, CEO Rob Lloyd, and Joe Lonsdale, vice chair of the company’s board of directors.
Pishevar, Lloyd, and Lonsdale also claim that BamBrogan, who was ousted from the company in July, stole laptops, tried to force a reorganization of the company’s board to award himself more voting power, and orchestrated a public campaign to embarrass his former colleagues after being stymied in his sabotage. A fake Twitter account, @SiliconValleyMg, was allegedly set up by BamBrogan to promote negative news stories. (The account has currently sent only one tweet.)
The new allegations were made in a countersuit filed in reaction to a lawsuit filed by BamBrogan weeks after his termination, in which he accused Pishevar, Lloyd, and Lonsdale of engaging in financial misconduct, abuse, and physical threats. Pishevar and his team say BamBrogan only filed the lawsuit to obscure his own plans to start a new Hyperloop company called "NewCo" or "Hyperloop Two."
BamBrogan had previously said the alleged plans to start a competing company were just an inside joke, but his former colleagues claim that it was "no joking matter." The new filing, however, provides no direct evidence of this secret garage meeting, except to say the company "recently learned" of its existence.
"Today's filing sheds even more light on the attempted illegal coup by this Gang of Four [a term used to describe BamBrogan and his co-defendants] and demonstrates the extensive plans they took to form a competing company," Orin Snyder, attorney for Hyperloop One, said in a statement. "When their plans blew up in their face, they staged a propaganda campaign designed to harm the company. Now that has failed, too, and their plot has been exposed. We will hold them responsible for their conspiracy and lies, as Hyperloop One continues to prosper as a better company without their destructive behavior."
The new filing is also evidence that tempers have not cooled since BamBrogan’s ouster and subsequent lawsuit, which came just a few weeks after BamBrogan, Pishevar, and Lloyd made a very public show of unity at the company’s first public test of its technology in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Since then, Hyperloop One has attempted to show that it is operating as normal, announcing a partnership with Dubai’s DP World, the third largest port and terminals operator in the world, earlier this month.
But the lawsuit and countersuit have sucked much of the air out of Hyperloop’s sails, and cast a pall over a company that was promising 760 mph travel for passengers and freight.
Justin Berger, attorney for BamBrogan and his co-defendants, responded to the amended countersuit with this statement: "This filing is nothing more than a thinly veiled publicity stunt. It contains nothing new of substance from the cross complaint filed by the company in July and is equally deficient as that one. We are confident the allegations and assertions will be proven false in court."