Vir­gin Hyper­loop One re­places its chief ex­ec­u­tive

For­mer N.Y. tran­sit agency chief takes helm

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - BUSINESS MARKETS - By Wade Tyler Mill­ward Las Ve­gas Re­view-jour­nal

The CEO is out at the com­pany be­hind a North Las Ve­gas-area test track for an ex­per­i­men­tal mode of trans­porta­tion.

Vir­gin Hyper­loop One, which is work­ing on a method to move goods and peo­ple from Las Ve­gas to Los An­ge­les in 30 min­utes, an­nounced the lead­er­ship change in a state­ment Thurs­day.

For­mer CEO Rob Lloyd had been with the com­pany over three years and guided it through projects world­wide, in­clud­ing the test track at Apex In­dus­trial Park near North Las Ve­gas.

Re­plac­ing Lloyd is Jay Walder, for­mer CEO of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity in New York and the com­pany that runs Hong Kong’s Mass Tran­sit Rail­way.

A spokesman said Lloyd’s de­par­ture had been in the works for at least six months. Lloyd agreed that the com­pany needed a dif­fer­ent leader as it moves from a startup to a com­mer­cial ven­ture.

He par­tic­i­pated in the search for his suc­ces­sor, the spokesman said. The in­ter­view process lasted months. He is no longer on the board but is still an in­vestor in Vir­gin Hyper­loop One.

The com­pany’s lead­er­ship team has been shaken up sev­eral times.

In 2016, Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer Bro­gan Bam­bro­gan split from the com­pany and formed a ri­val startup, Ar­rivo.

In De­cem­ber, co-founder Shervin Pi­she­var re­signed fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment or as­sault from sev­eral women. He de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions.

In April, Rus­sia ar­rested board mem­ber and bil­lion­aire Ziyavudin Magome­dov, ac­cus­ing him of em­bez­zling $44 mil­lion from in­fra­struc­ture con­tracts.

In Oc­to­ber, Chair­man Richard Bran­son stepped down from the com­pany, say­ing he didn’t have the time needed for Vir­gin Hyper­loop One. His leave came a year af­ter the com­pany an­nounced adding “Vir­gin” to its name to re­flect an in­vest­ment from Bran­son and his con­glom­er­ate of the same name.

Bran­son’s seat on the board was filled by Patrick Mccall of Vir­gin. On Thurs­day the com­pany said Bran­son would be re­placed as chair­man by Sul­tan Ahmed bin Su­layem, a long­time Vir­gin Hyper­loop One board mem­ber and CEO of DP World, owned by the Dubai gov­ern­ment and one of the world’s largest port ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tors.

DP World is now the largest in­vestor in Vir­gin Hyper­loop One, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. Walder also re­ceived a seat on the board.

The com­pany’s next project is a nearly seven-mile test track in In­dia, with con­struc­tion ex­pected to start next year.

At its lo­cal test site about 20 miles north­east of Nellis Air Force Base, Vir­gin Hyper­loop One has op­er­ated mostly in se­cret. It brought a small group of re­porters to the site in Jan­uary, a month af­ter say­ing it had sent a pod down the track at about 240 mph.

Con­tact Wade Tyler Mill­ward at 702-383-4602 or wmill­ward@ re­viewjour­ Fol­low @wade­mill­ward on Twit­ter.

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