When Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan quit the company last week, it prompted plenty of questions. After all, the prodigious former SpaceX engineer walked away from a startup that he'd built just when things were getting exciting. Now, Buzzfeed is claiming to have seen court documents that say BamBrogan's departure was down to harassment from the company's former legal counsel. The report believes that the co-founder has filed a restraining order against Afshin Pishevar, apparently citing threats of violence and stalking. The issue is more complicated since Afshin Pishevar is the brother of Hyperloop One's other co-founder, Shervin Pishevar.
Hyperloop One has done more than anyone to bring legitimacy to Elon Musk's initial concept of mass transit via vacuum tubes. Brogan BamBrogan brought along a pedigree of success, having previously designed SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. The combination between him and Pishevar, a Silicon Valley billionaire who has backed Uber, AirBnB and Warby Parker, seemed irresistible. According to Buzzfeed's anonymous sources, this partnership is no more and a high-profile lawsuit is also on its way. We, naturally, reached out to Hyperloop One, but company representatives declined to comment at this time.
It couldn't come at a worse time, since such lawsuits are often expensive, time-consuming distractions that are likely to derail Hyperloop's progress. In the meantime Josh Giegel, BamBrogan's replacement, is taking the reins at Hyperloop and has the unenviable job of replacing his former boss. Giegel doesn't have the box-office name, but he is an alumnus of both SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, where he designed propulsion systems. But it remains to be seen if he is capable of bridging the gap between the fantasy and reality.
Oh, and because we're tired of people asking: Brogan BamBrogan changed his name from Kevin Brogan when he married his wife, Bambi BamBrogan. It's a thing that people do when they're in love, and is the least interesting thing anyone could be talking about, ever.
Update: CNBC posted a Scribd (embedded below) of BamBrogan's complaint and the allegations made range from financial mismanagement through to what can only be described as a death threat. The document includes an image of Afshin Pishevar placing what appears to be a tied noose on the back of BamBrogan's chair.
Update II: Orin Snyder, a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn representing Hyperloop One, has issued a statement calling the lawsuit "unfortunate and delusional," while also claiming BamBrogan "tried to stage a coup and failed." That statement in full:
Today's lawsuit brought by former employees of Hyperloop One is unfortunate and delusional. These employees tried to stage a coup and failed. They knew that the company was aware of their actions, and this lawsuit is their preemptive strike. The claims are pure nonsense and will be met with a swift and potent legal response.
Frivolous lawsuits like this one have become all too common against start-ups that achieve breakthrough success. It is almost a cliche. It is also a measure of Hyperloop's success. The company continues to recruit top talent, secure significant funding from global investors and accelerate toward its technology milestones. Hyperloop is on track, its board and team are united and today's bogus lawsuit will have no impact on its goal of becoming the first company to bring the Hyperloop to the world.