- The Boring Company is one of Elon Musk’s many futuristic projects, alongside Tesla and SpaceX.
- The Boring Company promises to build high-speed tunnels that will dramatically change your commute.
- But The Boring Company has yet to build a single commercial tunnel.
- Business Insider’s Matthew DeBord breaks down what’s going on with The Boring Company.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Matthew DeBord: The Boring Company is owned almost entirely by Elon Musk. I mean, he owns 90% of the company. Boring Company is kind of at the level of a hobby for him right now, I think. Although as hobbies go, it could be worth billions of dollars.
I don’t think there have been any canceled projects, but I don’t think there’ve really been any projects. We think we’re gonna do something in Chicago. We’re interested in doing something in Las Vegas. We’ve talked about doing something in New York. These are kinda still at the proposal and discussion stage, and this is actually not that unusual as far as big infrastructure projects go. An infrastructure project requires a lot of steps. I mean, a lot of people need to weigh in on what’s gonna happen if you’re gonna build a new freeway or a bridge. Much of what The Boring Company is doing at this point is setting itself up as, I think, just as a player in the space.
They’re not necessarily doing anything particularly advanced as far as the technology here. Rapidly being able to dig tunnels that vehicles or people can move through at high speeds is an antidote to the problem of gridlocking congestion in urban areas. The Boring Company itself is working on a tunneling machine that can operate at much higher speed, and I think the idea is it might be able to operate in kind of a drone-like way or a computerized way. Now as far as the projects are concerned, they’ve created a sample, like a test tunnel. It’s a little over a mile long near SpaceX headquarters, and then there is the Chicago project. A high-speed Elon Musk-ified people mover to connect, in the case of Chicago, downtown with O’Hare Airport. The idea in Vegas is to move people around at higher speed, not so much a bunch of Boring Company tunnels that are gonna be running underneath freeways and are gonna provide you with maybe what the initial promise was.
When they first rolled it out, they said, "OK, what we’re gonna have is essentially cars going down into these tunnels and getting on these high-speed sleds." But the idea now is that we could have a, what people might recognize more as mass transit, where people would go down into the tunnel and get on some sort of sled that accommodates 20 people or 50 people or something like that, and that would move through the tunnel as opposed to it being one person in their car going down there and be able to bypass all the traffic.
You know, the only thing that really is preventing these projects from moving forward is financing, public will, some kind of civic buy-in, then government support, I mean, you need a package to make this stuff happen. And then we’ll also have to look at what are the environmental effects. Sounds to me like the Vegas tunnel is the closest one to actually happening. Vegas is kind of interested in doing this. It sounds to me like the Chicago tunnel was highly dependent on Mayor Rahm Emanuel being able to drive it through city council. Without him driving the project forward, there could be some issues with it. That’s not to say it won’t happen.
It’s just that sometimes, I don’t know, it’s something about the way things work in America that you need to have someone dropping in, parachuting in with some crazy, high-tech idea. It’s like, "Oh, this is a game changer. It’s gonna change everything." Instead of it taking, whatever, half an hour to 45 minutes to go from Manhattan out to JFK, you could do it in 15 minutes, and you’re gonna be going 275 miles an hour, and you’re not even gonna know it. So there is that aspect of it, and then there’s the marketing value of it for Elon Musk’s other companies. If Elon is out doing a project, a high-tech project that’s gonna revolutionize tunneling, it continues the narrative of him being a revolutionary Silicon Valley problem-solver. The financing and political aspect of it is where all the tricky stuff comes into play. The places where that kind of financing would be available are typically large urban areas where the political aspects of such a project are gonna be quite complicated. People might be concerned that boring tunnels underneath where they live is gonna geologically destabilize their area.
Of the companies that he’s created, the one that is gonna have the most challenges actually getting anything, well, fulfilling some of its more ambitious objectives is probably gonna be The Boring Company, ironically. If The Boring Company does grow, and they sign up some real contracts and start doing some real projects, then there might be some significant follow-on investment, and I’ve seen people talking about valuations of anywhere from $10 billion to $20 billion in that ballpark.
They have discovered that by selling merch, they can raise quite a bit of money. So the first thing they did were they did the hats, Boring Company hats, and I think they raised something like $5 billion, million dollars, some ridiculous amount of money on just hats. Then they did these flamethrowers.
At the moment, I think what would take it out of, you know, Elon Musk’s big hobby is the financing, right? So when they get to the point that they are actually talking about doing some projects, there’ll be large sums of money attached to that. That money will represent revenue to The Boring Company. So once we start seeing that dynamic take over where the business becomes capitalized outside of the founder, then you have a real company. I’d say it’s still a pretty glorious hobby at this point for Elon Musk, but I think that because they’re making progress and are sort of working out the kinks in the technology and all that kind of stuff, that it’s becoming more of a real thing. And if they do a project in Vegas in particular, then I think everybody will go, "Ah, well, this is for real. This isn’t just an amusing name for a company. It’s an actual business doing actual things in the actual world."
Digging a tunnel, eh? Didn’t we do that 100 and something years ago? I drive through the Lincoln Tunnel every day. It’s been there forever. Since I was a little kid it was there. I’ve been driving through it since I was 10 years old, you know?
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