Elon Musk’s The Boring Company raises $112.5 million for its network of tunnels – although 90% was from Musk himself
Elon Musk has a lot of fingers in a lot of pies.
From electric cars to batteries and reusable rockets, he is currently chanelling a fair amount of energy into creating a series of London Underground-style networks of tunnels to help alleviate traffic in major cities. To build these tunnels, the billionaire even set up his own boring company called, ahem, The Boring Company.
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Now, following a new round of investment, Musk’s The Boring Company has raised $112.5 million from a total of 31 investors, according to documents filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of these investors, though, was Musk himself who reportedly put in more than 90% of the money. The rest is from early employees.
In a further attempt to generate funds, Musk recently began selling The Boring Company hats to “fans” and took things a step further in December when he promised to add flamethrowers to his merch range. That’s right, actual flamethrowers.
At the end of January, Musk opened up sales of the flamethrower making it possible for anyone (with $500) to purchase one of a limited number of flammable weapons. In less than a week, all 20,000 sold out.
It is unclear what markup Musk has made on these flamethrowers, plus he has been giving away fire extinguishers with every purchase which would cut into the $10 million gross, but it’s still a healthy sum of cash.
What is The Boring Company?
Musk founded The Boring Company in 2016 after getting annoyed by traffic around LA. The company plans to build 30 layers of tunnels throughout the city and will use them to transport vehicles and pedestrians on super-fast electric “sleds”. In December, he released the first glimpse at what his London Underground-style network of tunnels in Los Angeles will look like.
Posted on The Boring Company’s official site, the map features a mix of blue and red lines sprawling across the city. The red line shows the proposed “Phase 1 proof-of-concept tunnel” running 6.5 miles through Los Angeles and Culver City. The tunnel would be used for construction logistics verification, testing, and line-switching demos.
The company has already filed an excavation permit application for this tunnel, and has stressed it would not be used as a public transport route until it’s deemed successful by County government and City government.
The blue lines represent the second phase of the expansion and, as the company emphasises, are “included as a concept, not as a finalised alignment.” Little details are given about this second phase and The Boring Company is seeking feedback from residents of LA as well as local authorities.
Having originally spawned the hyperloop idea, releasing plans for the cross between a “Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table” in a 57-page document free for others to verify and build on, Musk announced his intentions for a high-speed underground network first in LA, then in New York. He even said he had verbal approval from the government to build a New York to DC tunnel system – although this was called into question.
The Guardian approached a number of officials in New York, Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania to corroborate Musk’s claims and none of them had spoken to the billionaire on this matter or given any kind of indication of approval. You can read their full statements here.
Musk later toned down his initial excitement by tweeting: “Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly.”
Red lines represent phase 1 of the plans. Blue lines would be added in phase 2
This news followed the record-breaking hyperloop test, carried out by Hyperloop One in August when the company successfully shot a passenger pod through a test tube at 192mph.
The trip marked the fastest journey so far for the nascent technology, which was last tested in May with a smaller trolley at slower speeds of 70mph. The company’s vision is for the magnetic-based system to be used as a major mode of transport between cities, eventually reaching speeds of around 760mph, and potentially connecting London to Edinburgh within 55 minutes.
Musk’s The Boring Company plans to construct tunnels for both short- and long-distance journeys, resembling the London Underground network. The majority of these tunnels will feature “standard pressurised tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph.”
For longer routes, like the one proposed between NY and DC, the tunnels will be depressurised and passengers will ride in pressurised pods up to “approximately 600+ mph (AKA Hyperloop).”
The scale of Musk’s ambitions sprawl to building 30 layers of tunnels throughout the city, used to transport vehicles and pedestrians on super-fast electric “sleds”. At least, that’s what The Boring Company’s concept video on the subject points to.
In a series of tweets announcing the project last year, Musk wrote: “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” before adding: “I am actually going to do this.” Musk then changed his Twitter bio to include: “Tunnels (yes, tunnels)”.
In January, Musk announced the first of his boring machines was to be called Godot, after the absent figure in Samuel Beckett’s seminal piece of modernist theatre. In April, leaked images from an employee’s Instagram account showed off this tunnel, and two months later, Musk said the “first segment” of a tunnel in LA had been completed.
Where the tunnel is located is important, seeing as anything beyond Space X’s property would need permission from the city’s officials. This verbal government approval appears to have ticked that box, but it is not a done deal yet. Musk hasn’t publicly disclosed the full working details of the route, beyond a tweet in which he said himself and LA mayor Eric Garcetti had had “promising conversations”.
There’s obviously a significant gap between Musk’s vision and a full tunnel segment, but the latest tweets suggest it’s a graspable start. Musk plans for the first stretch of tunnel to run from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Culver City, then to Santa Monica, Westwood and Sherman Oaks. Grand plans are Musk’s bread and butter of course, and – as the name of The Boring Company’s machine suggests – large-scale drilling operations are a great way to distract from the onset of existential malaise.
As Waiting for Godot’s Estragon says to Vladimir: “We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist?”
In Musk’s case, that impression of existence might come from something much more quotidian. Shortly after tweeting about Godot’s success last month, he began an outpouring of love for floors. “I love floors,” the SpaceX boss tweeted. “They will never let you down.”