Hyperloop One filed a countersuit against co-founder and former CTO Brogan BamBrogan today, claiming he was part of a group of four employees engaged in misconduct and abusive behavior.
The transportation startup developing a high-speed shuttle is suing the plaintiffs for at least $250 million in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County.
Hyperloop One’s countersuit says BamBrogan and three other employees — referred to as “the Gang of Four” — “manufactur[ed] a rebellion and incit[ed] conflict in a transparent attempt to seize control of the Company.”
The suit accuses the four of increasingly disruptive misconduct and staging a coup in May of 2016, asking select employees to sign a “threatening” letter demanding board members give up their shares and significantly change Hyperloop One’s equity structure.
The counterclaim also alleges BamBrogan sought to start a competing company, Hyperloop Two, and of discouraging current and prospective investors in hopes they would invest in the new company instead.
When that move failed, says the suit, BamBrogan and the others filed a suit as part of a “media ploy filled with lies aimed at smearing Hyperloop One.”
BamBrogan abruptly left the company a week ago and sued the former colleagues for wrongful termination and claims of failure toward fiduciary duty. He also filed a separate restraining order against the company’s former head of legal counsel and co-founder Shervin Pishevar’s brother Afshin Pishevar for allegedly placing a hangman’s noose on his chair after a discussion, but a Los Angeles judge dismissed it last week.
Images included in BamBrogan’s suit show Afshin placing the noose on BamBrogan’s chair. However, the countersuit claims the “hangman’s noose” incident was a sham complaint the stuff of tabloid fodder and was a publicity stunt aimed at gaining leverage in BamBrogan’s case.
BamBrogan’s suit accuses Shervin of a pay-to-play arrangement and of paying a public relations vendor from Pramana who represented the company well above a normal salary ($400,000 a year) while they were allegedly dating. The countersuit claims none of it to be true and says, “the salacious personal attacks on Shervin are lies, as no decision to hire, increase the compensation of, or terminate Pramana was made in any way based on Shervin’s one-time relationship with the Pramana representative.
The woman is not identified in the suit, but her former employer has also called the salary accusation “inaccurate.”
“Hyperloop One remains stronger than ever, especially now that it is rid of the Gang,” the countersuit reads. “The Company’s engineering team is running full speed ahead, led by Josh Giegel; all of its employees besides the Gang of Four have remained loyal; and its investors, employees, and Board stand united to keep forging ahead as the Company seeks to develop the world’s first Hyperloop.”
Update: BamBrogan’s lawyer says Hyperloop One’s countersuit is “revisionist history,” telling TechCrunch it’s “pure fiction, and that will be shown by the evidence.” He also counters there was no “Gang of Four” but a group of 11 employees from a cross-section of the company’s departments and that the noose placed by Afshin onto BamBrogan’s chair was a threat of violence recognized by the company, pointing out Afshin was fired shortly thereafter.
We’re sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear of the ongoing drama between Hyperloop One and its former co-founder BamBrogan. In the meantime, you can read the full countersuit here: