With Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter also on his plate, Elon Musk's The Boring Company is the lesser known of the billionaire's big swings, but one that promised to upend traditional infrastructure. The company was born with a tweet in 2016 when Musk said he was sick of traffic. He bought a tunnel-boring machine and started digging. At the time, it seemed like a publicity stunt, but then he actually did it.
The company has made some splashy news, particularly its unconventional fundraising tactics like selling flamethrowers and perfume that smells like burnt hair. But, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, the new perfume isn't the only bit of Boring business that smells funny.
Apparently, the company has a history of making promises it can't keep. The article details a number of times Boring stepped in to play hero to an ailing infrastructure project, only to back out when it came to signing on the dotted line.
For example, in January 2020, officials in Ontario, California, were looking to build a light rail connection from Ontario International Airport to a train station four miles away. The project was looking at a $1 billion price tag. Boring stepped in, unsolicited, and offered to make the connection with an underground tunnel and autonomous EVs for $45 million. But, when it came time to formalize the deal, Boring balked and ghosted the community — the $500 million cost projection as of 2021 may have had something to do with it.
According to the Journal, Boring has done the same in Chicago, L.A. and Maryland. Officials say that part of the problem is that Boring struggles with bureaucracy, like permits and environmental reviews.
The company's lone functioning tunnel is a 1.6-mile loop under the Las Vegas Convention Center that one IEN colleague recently described as a "gimmick."
Still, it's possible that while the tunneling technology isn't there yet, the company's prospects still hold promise. And Boring still has its true believers. In the spring, the company raised some $675 million in funds that valued the company around $5.7 billion, which is nothing to sniff at.