First, there was $1 million worth of hats, followed by $10 million worth of flamethrowers. Now, Hawthorne, California-based infrastructure and tunnel construction company The Boring Company has revealed that it has raised $112.5 million in fresh funding, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) document filed on April 16. According to the filing, the money was raised from a total of 31 investors; reports in Recode and Bloomberg said that about 90 percent of the funding – around $100 million – came from Elon himself, with the remaining money coming from 30 early employees of the company. No outside investors or venture capitalists participated in the round.
The Boring Company was set up in 2017 with the intention of using a network of underground tunnels and high-speed transportation systems to transport people and goods (better known as the Hyperloop concept). The company’s website states that it was founded to “solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic”, with active projects being pursued in Los Angeles, Chicago, and the Baltimore-Washington area. The company received permission to start digging in a small fenced-off area of Washington DC in February this year, around the same time that Musk clarified that the focus of the project would be on building public transportation systems rather than a ferrying system for cars and the like.
Elon has, in the past, resorted to pretty outlandish ideas to raise money for The Boring Company, such as the above-mentioned hats and flamethrowers. However, the company, for the most part, appears to have been funded directly from Elon’s own pockets, and the latest SEC filing appears to confirm that assumption. Elon, who also leads electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and aerospace company SpaceX, has previously admitted that he devotes only about 2-3 percent of his time to The Boring Company, saying, “This is basically interns and people doing it part-time...We bought some second-hand machinery. It’s kind of puttering along but making good progress.”
However, the new fundraising might signal a renewed focus on the project, particularly given that The Boring Company is one of two final bidders competing for the proposed, high-profile transportation system connecting downtown Chicago with O’Hare International Airport. Curiously, the SEC filing makes no mention of Elon at all. Instead, it lists two other people – Jared Birchall, who is listed as Secretary, Executive Officer, and Director, and Steve Davis, who is listed as Executive Officer. Jared is also a part of Elon’s Neuralink project, while Steve is a SpaceX engineer.
There have been some concerns about the scale and scope of The Boring Company’s project, with six Congress members writing to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan last month seeking information about the state’s support for the proposed Hyperloop Project, including the regulatory standards that will apply. They wrote, “While the Hyperloop is an exciting project that has the potential to transform transportation along the entire U.S. East Coast, it is also a project that would utilize a wholly new technology and could have significant impacts on our constituents.” Elon is no stranger to controversy around his projects, and his fresh injection of funds into The Boring Company is likely a strong signal of his intent to see the project come to fruition.