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Virgin Hyperloop One recruits former MTA chief as CEO

The company has changed leadership again. Virgin Hyperloop One's mission to redefine transport is, once again, going to be led by new people as the company announces a new chairman and CEO. Replacing Sir Richard Branson as head of the board is his Excellency Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the head of DP World. The outgoing CEO Rob Lloyd, meanwhile, is being succeeded by transportation veteran Jay Walder (pictured), former head of the MTA. Branson stepped down from his role on the board at the end of October, saying that the company needed a more "hands-on" leader. The timing, however, suggested that his departure was trigged by his decision to end a proposed investment deal with Saudi Arabia. In the wake of the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Branson pulled out of a rumored agreement that would have seen $1 billion pumped into Virgin Group companies. Branson's board seat will be filled by Virgin's Patrick McCall. DP World chairman bin Sulayem has had a long relationship with Hyperloop One, and has invested in the company several times before. Both companies have also, together, launched a Hyperloop-for-cargo firm that would use the tubes to ship freight between DP World ports and major logistics centers. The sultan is a key figure in the Dubai business world, and has also served on that emirate's sovereign wealth fund. As part of the transition, the company says that DP World is now the biggest investor in Hyperloop One. The more surprising change is the exit of current CEO and investor Rob Lloyd, who was recruited by original co-founder Shervin Pishevar to run the company in 2015. Lloyd's replacement, Jay Walder, recently stepped down as CEO of Motivate, the operator of NYC's Citi Bike scheme. Walder's CV has seen the executive take up prominent positions in New York, London and Hong Kong's mass-transit business. Between 2001 - 2007, Walder was head of finance at Transport for London during which he helped introduce the Oyster card. He then became head of the MTA between 2009 and 2011 before serving a two-year stint as head of Hong Kong's MTRC, operator of the country's mass-transit railways. Walder will serve as a director at Hyperloop One as well, and his experience may prove valuable in the coming years. Hyperloop One is also pledging that, if India's government provides the proper authorization, it will begin building its proposed Pune - Mumbai route in 2019. The first stage will be the construction of a 6.8-mile test track, with further targets yet to be announced.

Virgin Hyperloop One has a new CEO and board chairman

High-speed futuristic transportation company Virgin Hyperloop One is changing up its leadership. CEO Rob Lloyd has left after three years at the helm and Jay Walder, who ran bike-sharing operator Motivate, is now heading up Virgin Hyperloop One, the company said Thursday. Sir Richard Branson, who stepped down as chairman in October, has been replaced with Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of the United Arab Emirates shipping and logistics company DP World. DP World, which participated in Virgin Hyperloop Ones latest financing round, is now the companys largest investor. DP World first invested in the company in 2016.  Earlier this year, the two companies launched a logistics joint venture to develop hyperloop transport for cargo. Walder is also joining the board of directors. Virgin Hyperloop One said that the new senior management team will focus on commercialization, specifically a proposed hyperloop system in India. Walder has a long history in transportation. He most recently ran Motivate, the largest bike-share company in North America. Motivate, which was acquired by Lyft in July, operates bike share programs in New York as CitiBike, in Washington, D.C. as Capital Bikeshare, and in San Francisco as Ford GoBike, among others. Walder helped modernize Londons aging mass transit system as the agencys managing director and then went on to serve as chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. He later became CEO of MTR Corporation in Hong Kong. I have focused my career on using technology to advance innovation in transportation, so I could not pass up the opportunity to lead the company that has pioneered hyperloop, Walder said in a statement. Virgin Hyperloop One has had a bumpy ride in its short life. The company, which began as Hyperloop One before it was rebranded in October 2017 after Virgins investment, was embroiled in a lawsuit with a co-founder and several employees. The parties reached a settlement in 2016. The company has also lost several executives and board members, including co-founder Shervin Pishevar, who took a leave of absence in December after Bloomberg reported on multiple claims of sexual misconduct. Branson replaced Pishevar, who also stepped down from his venture firm Sherpa Capital. Virgin Hyperloop One has had success as well, raising capital, forming partnerships, conducting feasibility studies and running tests of the high-speed technology. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk first proposed the hyperloop — a system of reduced-pressure tubes that would hurtle people and packages long distances at super speeds — in a nearly 60-page public white paper in 2013. Today, the company is focused on its project in India. The government recently declared the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project as a public infrastructure project with international consortium DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One. The Virgin Hyperloop One-DP World consortium must now wait and see if it will be awarded a concession for the project. If it is, the company expects to start construction on the 11 km test loop in 2019. When completed, hyperloop can reduce the travel time between Mumbai and Pune from about 4 hours to 25 minutes, according to Virgin Hyperloop One.