Hyperloop One’s dead confirms Elon Musk’s decline

You may remember Hyperloop One, the high-speed transportation concept that Elon Musk, Tesla founder and current owner of the former Twitter, envisioned allowing travel at over 1,120 km/h in underground, airless tubes.

However, the project, despite a strong start with the usual hype, has floundered. The startup has laid off most of its employees and put its remaining assets up for sale.

Hyperloop One and Elon Musk’s shift

Hyperloop One somewhat reflects Elon Musk’s trajectory in recent years, which, aside from a few exceptions, seems to have lost the brilliance that made him appear as a genius figure through Tesla and PayPal.

Specifically, Hyperloop was founded in 2014 and quickly gained momentum with $450 million in investments. Over time, though, things took a different turn, and the “discovery” that building a new form of transportation requires equally new logistics led to the company’s downfall.

Musk realized that things were different from Tesla, which adopted an existing technology—electric cars—effectively positioning itself as a better example. Initially, in 2017, Hyperloop One was bought by Virgin, and then, amidst various issues, it disappeared.

Hyperloop One
Image: Hyperloop One

As reported by Bloomberg, Hyperloop One never secured a contract for building a functional hyperloop, and in the meantime, its reputation worsened due to management issues.

Not only did Musk display a lack of respect for people, but also Shervin Pishevar, a venture capitalist, had to step aside after Bloomberg reported sexual harassment allegations against him. Additionally, Ziyavudin Magomedov was arrested in Moscow for fraud and embezzlement, although not directly related to Hyperloop One.

As mentioned, Hyperloop represents one of Musk’s recent failures. Since acquiring Twitter, which he later renamed X due to his obsession with the letter, the social network has experienced a steady decline in users and overall value—from the $44 billion Musk paid to acquire it to $15 billion in June 2023, and it has continued to drop. All to the delight of Meta.

Not to mention SpaceX, which has faced two failures in two attempts. The Starship spacecraft, for instance, attempted to launch towards the moon on November 18 but exploded shortly after takeoff.

The only venture that seems to survive is Tesla, buoyed by its strong sales results and the contributions of its designers and President Robyn Denholm. However, these results could face a sudden slowdown due to strikes in Scandinavia, where workers are refusing to submit to the entrepreneur’s exploitation policies. This region is simultaneously a key market for the Californian company. In short, an example of self-sabotage.

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