Jay Hyder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, is "delighted" to be attending this year's Future Investment Initiative conference just a year after the government Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi brutally murdered, according to released to an official statement Monday. The startup is one of the 49 "global partners" that Saudi Arabia has announced for the conference, which is also known as Davos in the Desert. The event starts later this week in the capital Riyadh.
Walder is a former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City and the former CEO of Motivate, starting up bicycle shares. He joined Virgin Hyperloop One last November as part of a startup leadership leadership that came after the then Chairman Richard Branson criticized the Saudi government for the disappearance of Khashoggi. Virgin Hyperloop One did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Just a few days after Khashoggi disappeared in October 2018, Branson suspended a $ 1 billion investment in its space company from the Saudi Arabian public investment fund. He said in a blog post that he "had high expectations of the current government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and his crown prince Mohammed bin Salman," but that a state-sponsored murder of a journalist "clearly demonstrated the ability of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government. "
Virgin Hyperloop One soon withdrew from the Davos 2018 in the desert dozens of other companies and planned speakers. After that, the Saudi government officially dropped the $ 1 billion deal with Virgin Galactic.
Branson eventually resigned as President of Virgin Hyperloop One, and at the same time as Walder came on board, the billionaire mogul's place was filled by Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO of Dubai port company DP World, who had $ 25 million invested in the start-up. Virgin Hyperloop One raised another $ 172 million from DP World in May this year.
"We are delighted to return this year with our investment partners DP World to participate in FII, and we have a great view to show guests how our technology will change the way they think about distance and speed," Walder said in the ruling. "We will also present the results of a recent study in the Kingdom that shows the significant economic and job-creating opportunities associated with the deployment of a hyper-running system."