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Hyperloop One gets a new chairman — and a financial lifeline

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Virgin Group founder Richard Branson replaces Shervin Pishevar

Hyperloop One

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has replaced Shervin Pishevar as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, according to Axios. The move to swap Pishevar, who recently stepped down from the company and his own venture capital firm following sexual assault allegations, for Branson was key to obtaining a crucial new round of funding, the site reports.

The new money from two existing investors, Russia’s Caspian Venture Capital and Dubai’s DP World, is reportedly helping Virgin Hyperloop One stay afloat. The company was on the verge of running out of money, threatening the employment of around 300 people, Axios reports. A spokesperson for the company did not respond to a request for comment.

Hyperloop One rebranded as Virgin Hyperloop One last October after a major investment by Branson, who also joined the company’s board of directors. His decision to step in as chairman may help the company land its first contract to build a hyperloop in 2018, a goal that sources say will help the company stay viable.

This past year has been a rocky one for Virgin Hyperloop One. The company conducted several major demonstrations of its superfast transportation system, but has yet to move beyond the stage of conducting feasibility studies with government partners. Earlier this year, the company settled a lawsuit with one of its co-founders over competing claims of harassment and sabotage. The latest news involving Pishevar bookends a roller-coaster year, and helps set the stage for more drama in 2018.