Virgin Hyperloop Lays Off Half Its Staff As It Pivots From Passenger to Cargo Trains

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Virgin Hyperloop Lays Off Half Its Staff As It Pivots From Passenger to Cargo Trains
Image from Wikimedia Commons

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Virgin Hyperloop has laid off roughly half of its staff as it pivots its high-speed vacuum train technology away from passenger transportation and toward shipping freight due to regulatory and supply chain issues.


The Los Angeles-based company confirmed to the Financial Times this week that it had laid off 111 people, with the job cuts meant to allow it “to respond in a more agile and nimble way and in a more cost-efficient manner” as it shifts its focus from passengers to cargo, according to a company spokesperson. The spokesperson added that “global supply chain issues” and “changes due to COVID” had driven that shift.

“Virgin Hyperloop as a company is responding to strong customer demand for a cargo-based hyperloop system and is focusing its resources on delivering this product,” the company said in a subsequent statement to the BBC—though adding that its long-term vision still involved “address[ing] passenger mobility.”

DP World, the Dubai-based logistics company that holds a majority stake in Virgin Hyperloop, told the FT that prioritizing cargo over passengers reduces the company’s operating risks and regulatory burdens. “It’s abundantly clear that potential customers are interested in cargo, while passenger is somewhat farther away,” DP World said. “Focusing on pallets is easier to do—there is less risk for passengers and less of a regulatory process.”

DP World added that Virgin is in talks with at least 15 potential customers interested in a cargo-only hyperloop transportation system—including a project spearheaded by the Saudi Arabian government that would link the port city of Jeddah with the capital city of Riyadh.

Virgin Hyperloop did not immediately respond to dot.LA’s requests for comment.

The news appears to quash, for the time being, Virgin Hyperloop’s futuristic designs on transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in only 45 minutes, and is also a blow to federal efforts exploring hyperloop technology. The concept of super-fast vacuum trains dates back hundreds of years, and was revived and popularized by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a 2013 white paper.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Behind Her Empire: AAVRANI Co-Founder Rooshy Roy On Redefining Success and Embracing Identity

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

AAVRANI Co-Founder Rooshy Roy
Photo courtesy of AAVRANI

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Rooshy Roy said, as the only Indian girl in school, she spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider and like she wasn’t meeting others’ expectations of “how an Indian girl should behave.”

Flash forward 20 years, and the differences Roy was once ashamed of are now the inspiration for her skincare company.

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