Virgin Hyperloop One, developers of a full-scale hyperloop system, announced that Jay Walder has been appointed as its new CEO. Walder will also join the company’s Board of Directors. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World, has been elected as its new chairman.
The selection of a new senior management team will allow Virgin Hyperloop One to transition its focus from technology startup to mass transportation company beginning with implementation of the world’s first hyperloop system running from Pune to Mumbai. The announcement follows the recent announcement of a new round of funding.
Walder has served as chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, CEO of the MTR Corp. in Hong Kong, and managing director at Transport for London. Most recently he ran Motivate, a leader in bike share, before its sale to Lyft. Walder was also a Partner at McKinsey, where he led the Global Infrastructure Practice for the consulting firm.
Bin Sulayem has over three decades of experience across a wide range of industries. Following the recent financing, DP World will become Virgin Hyperloop One’s largest investor.
The company is focusing on a major current project in India, where the government has recently declared the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop project as a public infrastructure project with international consortium DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One as the original project proponent. If the government ultimately awards it a concession for the project, the company expects to start constructions on the seven-mile test loop in 2019. When completed, hyperloop can reduce the travel time between Mumbai and Pune from about four hours to 25 minutes.
Sultan bin Sulayem replaces Sir Richard Branson, who stepped down last month, while Walder will replace Rob Lloyd, who served as CEO for more than three years and leaves after successfully guiding the company through its largest expansion including creating the first and only hyperloop system, a pipeline of projects globally, and raising substantial funding. During this time, the company has grown and positioned itself as the frontrunner in the hyperloop space. Sir Richard’s board seat will be taken by Virgin’s Patrick McCall.