5e95d97f8fce1b1b77ba357d Rockloop 2

VIRGIN’S HYPER ACTIVITY ATTRACTS ATTENTION

It was a glorious, sunny September morning. New Jersey Transit was uncharacteristically punctual in delivering me from Iron Edge headquarters in Summit, New Jersey to Manhattan. I had factored in the likelihood of train delays while planning the excursion, so the unexpected dependability of my transportation had made me quite early for the meeting.

Mind you, I was perfectly content to wait. I had moved to the suburbs six years earlier after having lived in Manhattan for a quarter century, so the occasional return to my old stomping grounds, especially on such a beautiful day, was always a welcome opportunity to reminisce and perhaps do some people-watching. The meeting was to take place inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and I enjoyed hanging around the base of this famous building. Adding to my satisfaction with the moment was the big Virgin Hyperloop One transportation pod conspicuously placed in the plaza. The above image is my own shot, taken that morning.

For one thing, this glimpse at the future of transportation was a sight to behold. Better still, as you are certain to recall, I had researched and written about this company less than two months earlier for the Iron Edge newsletter (Virgin Hyperloop One: The Momentum is Building; August 1, 2019). Two of my partners showed up, also early for our meeting, and together the three of us stood admiring the pod. When the NBC News reporter appeared and asked permission to interview us, we felt that we had stumbled upon a game-changing opportunity. It would be Iron Edge’s first prime time exposure on a major broadcast network.

Iron Edge President and General Partner Cristhian Palacios was first to spring into action. He assumed his characteristic enthusiasm for the promise of Virgin Hyperloop One’s disruptive technology. He raved about the inevitable positive changes in the lifestyles of millions across the globe when the company’s plan is put into action. He suggested that today’s futuristic fantasy will soon be the norm for long-distance travel. He expressed optimism that we, as a society, shall profit from the imaginations of forward-thinking entrepreneurs as we have for centuries.

Next, the microphone was pointing in my direction. When the reporter questioned the benefits of having to dig countless miles of tunnels, I countered by proclaiming the huge job-creating opportunity, and I compared it to the vast network of American railroads built during the Industrial Revolution. When he suggested that the endeavor had little appeal beyond an existence as Richard Branson and Elon Musk’s vanity project, I assertively reminded him that the Hyperloop will operate with virtually no carbon footprint, so take that, major airlines! I gave a somewhat detailed accounting of the “planetary masters of their art”, who work at Virgin Hyperloop One, occupying the top tiers of computer engineering, aerospace and aerodynamic engineering, mechanical design, motor systems, and rocket technology. This ever-growing team of the best and the brightest, I explained, put this company in a remarkably advantageous position to rapidly advance the science of propulsion.

All told, the reporter took about eight or nine minutes to interview Palacios and me. This, we believed, was going to be big. I was brimming with excitement when I watched the news that evening. Here’s the transcript of the interview, as abridged by NBC:

PALACIOS: “I think that’s incredible, if they can pull it off.”
MAGUIRE: “I think it is quite a cool thing.”

All that knowledge lies tragically on the cutting room floor. Please click here if you would like to see this journalistic misfire for yourself.

Amidst all the excitement that morning, I realized that I hadn’t asked an obvious question. Why in blazes was a Virgin Hyperloop One pod plopped down in the middle of Rockefeller Plaza? These babies are useless without a state-of-the-art precision magnetized tunnel, and I was reasonably certain that Manhattan’s subways did not fit the bill. After a little research, I learned that Virgin was conducting a sort of road show — not for venture capital investors, but for the raising of public awareness. I discovered that the pod my partners and I had marveled over had made a few stops already, namely, in Ohio, Texas, and Kansas. After Gotham, it would move on to Missouri, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., with the possibility of more destinations to be added later.

This is not simply corporate muscle flexing. Public awareness breeds public support, and that can be a make-or-break factor for a group that hopes for permission to dig through thousands of miles of public and private land. Like so many of the fascinating late-stage pre-IPO companies out there, Virgin Hyperloop One frankly suffers from limited understanding among laypeople. Ask the average Joe what Hyperloop is, and the reply will sound eerily like my big NBC interview: “Fast trains”. A more detailed and accurate answer would explain that the technology was inspired by the pneumatic tubes that were developed in the late 19th Century. Think about the old-timey office memo delivery system they used in the pre-email days. Or at the bank drive thru. I will never forget sitting in the back of the station wagon (no child safety seat, no seat belt because it was 1974) and after my mother made her deposit, the tube returned with a receipt for her and a lollipop for me. If only I could have seen through my delirious, greed-and-sugar-fueled haze to come up with the Hyperloop idea myself at age six. But, if you will excuse the digression, Virgin Hyperloop One took this concept and made it much larger. They replaced the document cartridges with pods, about the size of a Humvee limo, like the one seen at 30 Rock. The tubes are substituted with tunnels large enough to accommodate the pods. They employ a low-pressure environment that produces faster and smoother propulsion through the perfection of magnetic levitation — a network of magnets and tracks that propels the pod at speeds approaching 700 miles per hour.

Simply put, Virgin Hyperloop One is the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years.

The environmental perks are real. The operation of the Hyperloop requires very little energy (it relies more on natural momentum) and it expends no direct emissions. That’s correct: zero emissions. And the speed? These pods will deliver you from New York to Los Angeles in less than four and a half hours. You could travel from Dallas to New Orleans, or from Munich to Paris, in under an hour. Weather delays will be a thing of the past in this underground network. I’m guessing that they will serve delicious snacks on board, too.

These are only a couple of the benefits put forth by a company that tirelessly innovates in unexpected directions. Best of all: the resulting revolutionary change in transportation will likely be upon us much sooner than you expect.

We at Iron Edge VC are proud to have pre-IPO access to Virgin Hyperloop One shares. If you would like to learn more, or if you know of anybody else who would, please do not hesitate to contact us by clicking “Get in Touch” below.

As always, our inventory is available on a first come, first served basis.

5f6e0d464e388c4975685025 Paul Min

Paul Maguire

Founder And Managing Partner