Hyperloop Technologies taps a new CEO

rob hyperloop technologies
From left to right: TJ Ronacher, Shervin Pishevar, Brogan BamBrogan, Rob Lloyd at Hyperloop Technologies' LA facility.

In an industrial building in downtown LA, Elon Musk's vision for a high-speed, energy-efficient transportation system is underway.

A passerby would likely miss any "Hyperloop Technologies" signage, according to former Snapchat COO Emily White.

White thought her Uber driver was lost the first time she went to visit cofounder and venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar at Hyperloop headquarters. Pishevar, an early investor in Uber, is known in Silicon Valley for his ability to connect people with companies and his willingness to take big bets. He wanted White to join the company's board.

Pishevar's persuasion worked. White is joining the board of Hyperloop Technologies, which is also naming a new CEO: former Cisco President Rob Lloyd.

In 2013, Musk proposed the idea for a transportation alternative where passengers travel at 700 miles per hour in pods through vacuum-like, low-pressure tubes.

He called it "the fifth mode" of transportation and encouraged companies to take on the challenge. Hyperloop Technologies is one of several firms that embraced the mission head-on. It says it's creating a more energy-efficient mode of transport that will cost less than half of any high-speed rail project.

Given the vision's sci-fi nature and technological challenges, turning the concept into a reality will be no small feat.

It's one of the reasons White decided to come on board.

"I've always been really attracted to stuff on the bleeding edge," she told CNNMoney.

White joined Snapchat when there were just 30 employees and worked at Google (GOOG) when there were just 200 employees. She says Hyperloop Technologies has already grown dramatically since she met with Pishevar in April. The year-old startup has more than 50 employees.

Lloyd, meanwhile, says he's ready to apply his 20 years at Cisco (CSCO) to building Hyperloop. He'll replace cofounder and CTO Brogan BamBrogan, who was serving as interim CEO.

"I fell in love with the idea of how we live, how we organize our cities," Lloyd told CNNMoney. "It was a dream come true."

He likens the construction of Hyperloop to building out the Internet.

hyper loop cylinder

In a blog post, Lloyd outlined the company's latest progress in building out the tech to make Hyperloop a reality: compressor tech that can operate at high speeds and low pressures with a wind tunnel, levitation tech that would lift the pod off rails, and advancements in the architecture of the tube that would transport pods carrying passengers.

The company says a working prototype of a two-mile test loop will be ready at the end of 2016 or early 2017.

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