Brogan BamBrogan, the former SpaceX engineer who was dramatically ousted last year from Hyperloop One, the futuristic transportation company he helped found, just launched his own company. It’s called Arrivo, which is Italian for “you’ve arrived,” and will be located less than a mile from LA headquarters of BamBrogan’s former co-founders and now rivals, Hyperloop One.
The company plans to build its own hyperloop — a far-out transportation system first conceived by Elon Musk which envisions aerodynamic aluminum capsules filled with passengers or cargo traveling in a nearly airless tube at roughly the speed of sound. In addition to BamBrogan as CEO, the company’s founders include five former executives and engineers from Hyperloop One, as well as two engineers from SpaceX and AECOM, a global construction firm that built SpaceX’s mile-long hyperloop test track.
“We got some hyperloops in the game,” Brogan said excitedly in an interview with The Verge.
He hinted that Arrivo will have a “unique take” on the hyperloop concept, which it plans on rolling out in the next few months. The company has outlined an aggressive growth schedule for itself: it aims to have hired 30 engineers by June, and will grow to up to 80 employees by the end of the year.
“The ethos of the company is trying to switch the paradigm,” he said. “Mobility and transportation are both words that talk about the ‘getting there.’ And we want to make it so seamless. I don’t want to get to dinner with my friend, I want to be at dinner with my friend.”
BamBrogan said he attended last month’s SpaceX hyperloop pod demonstration, in which dozens of college engineering teams competed to test their prototypes on the aerospace company’s test track. “It was awesome,” he said, noting how inspiring it was to see so many students working hard on this engineering problem. “We don’t think the laws of physics need to be tested anymore. We’re really going to work to commercialize and bring some epic value to projects in the US and around the world as well.”
BamBrogan’s bombastic attitude has served him well in this space, but it is also true that the hyperloop does not exist in the real world. No one has ridden in one, nor is it clear that people will feel comfortable hurling through an airless tube at 760 mph in a windowless pod. And this fantastical vision of the world won’t come cheap: leaked documents from BamBrogan’s former company recently obtained by Forbes show the cost of building the hyperloop vastly exceed Musk’s vision. The route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi would cost $4.8 billion, or $52 million a mile. Musk’s original concept in 2013 was an $11.5 million-per-mile hyperloop.
BamBrogan said that Arrivo is currently in talks with unnamed partners in the US and around the world about building hyperloops, but stressed that first and foremost Arrivo would be an American company. This was apparently a reference to the fact that most people assume that the first operational hyperloop will be built outside the US. Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, currently the only two startups in the hyperloop space, have made numerous deals with foreign governments, including Dubai, Finland, and Slovakia.
More importantly, this is Brogan’s first big move since settling his lawsuit with Hyperloop One, which he filed soon after being booted from the company by his former co-founders. The lawsuit notably came a few short weeks after Hyperloop One conducted its first public test of its technology at a desert site outside Las Vegas.
Brogan told The Verge that he has put that experience behind him, and is totally focused on his new venture. “The lawsuit was settled in November,” he said, “we filled out our founding team, and put together a really unique vision for the end-users — which by the way is both cargo and passengers — but it’s also going to deliver real economic value for the individual projects.”
That founding team includes: Nima Bahrami, who served as vice president for transponics at Hyperloop One for nearly two years; Jadon Smith, a 10-year veteran of SpaceX who has also worked for Lockheed Martin and the CIA; Knut Sauer, former vice president of business development at Hyperloop One; Andrew Liu, senior VP at AECOM Ventures; William Mulholland, former VP of finance at Hyperloop One; and David Pendergast, a former investment banker and assistant general counsel at Hyperloop One.
BamBrogan, Sauer, Mulholland, and Pendergast were named the “Gang of Four” in a countersuit filed by Hyperloop One, which alleged BamBrogan sought more power, failed, and then attempted to sabotage the company. His former co-founders even claimed that BamBrogan attempted to set up his own competing company, going so far as to register the domain name “Hyperloop Two.”