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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

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.

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