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The Hyperloop Lawsuit Is Even More Bonkers Than the Hyperloop

Enough litigation power to propel us all into the transportation future.

Hypertubes awaiting assembly in the desert.

 

The technology behind the Hyperloop may still be something of a mystery, but today the world learned that the underbelly of Hyperloop One, the corporate entity, is rather breathtaking. As in, OMFG, those people did what? The allegations, summed up in an epic lawsuit led by Hyperloop One cofounder Brogan BamBrogan (real name), read like a cross between The Wolf of Wall Street and the darkest episode of Silicon Valley ever. Nepotism. A man fired in front of his children. A noose left on a desk. Threats of “economic and legal warfare by millionaires with extensive networks.” BuzzFeed has the whole shebang; we've got the hyper-short version. 

The suit lays out what sounds like a war between two factions of Hyperloop One, an L.A.-based company dedicated to realizing the transpo-dream first floated by Elon Musk (Musk is not affiliated with the company). On one side: BamBrogan, former Hyperloop One assistant general counsel David Pendergast, and former VPs Knut Sauer and William Mulholland. On the other: Hyperloop One cofounder and app enthusiast Shervin Pishevar; his brother Afshin Pishevar, former chief legal officer; and Joe Lonsdale, vice chairman and board member.

Here’s some of what went down, per the suit:

Former Hyperloop One chief legal officer Afshin Pishevar carrying what looks like a noose, captured on security footage.

Office romance
Shervin Pishevar allegedly gave a PR operative a raise, from $15,000 to more than $40,000 per month after the two began dating. She was then dismissed after their engagement ended.

Nepotism
The suit alleges that both Pishevar and Lonsdale hired “cronies and relatives” to do “useless work,” and that Pishevar favored his own connections as investors at the expense of “reputable investors.” And that’s not all: Pishevar allegedly wanted investors to funnel their contributions through his venture capital firm, Sherpa Capital. And Lonsdale is accused of forcing Hyperloop One to fund-raise through his brother’s company, a move that, plaintiffs say, damaged the company’s credibility and risked costing it investments potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.

Threats
After missing a trip to meet investors in order to attend to other business, BamBrogan says he found a “hangman’s noose” on his desk—apparently placed there by Afshin Pishevar, per security camera footage. (“The message was clear,” the lawsuit concludes.) Afterward, BamBrogan was asked to go on a leave of absence. Did we mention that Afshin Pishevar was the company's chief legal officer? 

More threats
After 11 employees signed a letter complaining about Hyperloop One’s management, the defendants allegedly threatened to retaliate with frivolous lawsuits and bring upon BamBrogan and others “economic and legal warfare by millionaires with extensive networks” if BamBrogan didn’t agree to a demotion and other demands.

Fear and humiliation 
Pendergast, the assistant general counsel, brought his wife and children to the office out of fear for their safety after the noose incident. CEO Rob Lloyd then fired Pendergast in front of his family. 

Here’s where we say that Hyperloop One is calling the suit “bogus” and a “preemptive strike” by employees who attempted to stage a coup and got found out. (BamBrogan is no longer employed by Hyperloop One; he left abruptly last month.) The company’s response, in a statement to the Verge, goes on to brag that the suit “is a measure of Hyperloop’s success.”

If the company culture is anything like what’s laid out in the complaint, we’re sure they’ll find a lot more “success” in the future.

 

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