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Richard Branson. Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

Futuristic transportation startup Virgin Hyperloop One has agreed to raise $50 million in new private funding, Axios has learned. It also plans to name Richard Branson as chairman.

Why it matters: The Los Angeles-based company was running very low on cash, threatening the employment of around 300 people.

Backstory: Founded in 2014 as Hyperloop One, the company's technology is based on plans for a high-speed, tube-based transportation system released by Elon Musk the prior year. This past summer it announced two successful tests, although they still only reached a fraction of the near-700 miles per hour it eventually hopes to achieve.

  • In the summer of 2016, the company parted ways with one of its co-founders and a few other employees after a dispute led to a legal battle.
  • A number of other startups, including Musk's Boring Company, also are working on hyperloop.

The company rebranded as Virgin Hyperloop One following a recent investment from Virgin Group, through which Richard Branson took a regular board seat. Branson's new agreement to become chairman was key to obtaining the financing, per a source. One of the co-chairs he replaces is Shervin Pishevar, who resigned from the board following sexual harassment allegations unrelated to the company.

The new money comes from two existing investors: Russia's Caspian Venture Capital and Dubai's DP World. Not only does the deal let Virgin Hyperloop One stay afloat, but it also helps the company maintain ties in two geographic regions — Russia and the middle East — where it would like to sign contracts in 2018.

Virgin Hyperloop One did not return requests for comment.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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