What Is The Boring Company?

What Is The Boring Company?

Like many of Elon Musk's most controversial ideas, The Boring Company began as a tweet. Musk was presumably sitting in a Los Angelean rush hour on Dec. 17, 2016, when he wrote, "Traffic is driving me nuts. I am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging..." If Musk were anyone but the CEO of Tesla, he might have left it at that, but just minutes later, it seemed that he had given the idea some serious thought.

"It shall be called 'The Boring Company'. I am actually going to do this,'" Musk said in a series of tweets. But unlike his proposals to "take Tesla private," build a "media credibility website," or pilot a mini-submarine in Thailand — ideas that were either hated, unsuccessful, or both — The Boring Company may just be Musk's most successful social media pitch to date.

The Tesla CEO announced the first test dig in Jan. 2017, but not before returning to Twitter to coin a company slogan: "Boring, it's what we do."

The Boring Company broke ground one month later in Feb. 2017 while digging a test hole on the premises of SpaceX. The test dig reportedly began on a Friday afternoon, when Musk said "Let's get started today and see what's the biggest hole we can dig between now and Sunday afternoon, running 24 hours a day." At the end of that period, The Boring Company had managed to produce a hole measuring 50 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

Key Takeaways

  • The Boring Company, an underground tunneling system company, was founded by Elon Musk to solve big-city traffic problems.
  • The Boring Company has completed three projects: the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), the Hyperloop Test Track, and the R&D Tunnel.
  • In progress is the 29-mile Vegas Loop tunnel that will connect 51 stations between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
  • The Boring Company entered and won the City of Chicago's contest to build a high-speed transportation network from downtown Chicago to the O'Hare Airport.
  • The Boring Company introduced recreational flamethrowers to the market, selling a total of approximately 20,000 units.
Tesla in Boring tunnel
A Tesla Model X fitted with what Elon Musk describes as "tracking wheels.".  The Boring Company

What Does The Boring Company Do?

While Elon Musk has demonstrated concern over what happens on land and in space, he also seems to be interested in what goes on underground. The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company with contracts in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Hawthorne, California.

The company's self-stated goal is "to solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic" by building a network of transportation corridors underground. How exactly are they going to do that? Musk has suggested that he has the technology and the means to increase tunneling speed and drop costs by a factor of 10 or more. For context, the most expensive tunneling projects can cost as much as $1 billion per mile in urban areas.

The Boring Company Products

The Boring Company boasts five product lines: Loop, Utility, Freight, Pedestrian, and Bare. The Loop—the heart of the tunneling system—is the company's underground public transportation system. Equipped with miles of tunnels and stations, it is designed to eliminate burdensome traffic.

Utility uses the tunneling system to store utility lines. Its design reduces or eliminates surface disruption and allows easy access to utilities. Freight uses tunnels to transfer freight, reducing the dependency on rail and other freight delivery systems.

The pedestrian product line features tunnels that pedestrians use to access different destinations, such as the Las Vegas Convention Center tunnel. These pedestrian tunnels offer a safe alternative to above-ground travel.

Lastly, Bare, as its name suggests, is a bare tunnel. It is a build-to-suit type of offering, allowing tunnels to be configured however the purchaser wants.

The Boring Company has proposed transporting passengers from downtown Chicago to O'Hare airport using high-speed pods.  The Boring Company

Reimagining Public Transit

The Boring Company debuted its first completed stretch of an underground tunnel on Dec. 18, 2018, in Hawthorne, California. When the project was first proposed, Musk suggested that pods capable of carrying 16 passengers at once would shoot through the tunnel at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

But the project that The Boring Company unveiled in December looked remarkably different: instead of passenger pods, Tesla Model Xs were equipped with "tracking wheels," a guiding system similar to the way that vehicles are moved through a car wash.

First riders reported that the tracking wheels made rides extremely bumpy even at the test speed of approximately 50 mph. In 2018, The Boring Company completed its first 1.14-mile tunnel at the construction cost of $10 million.

The Boring Company Wins Chicago

Love it or hate it, The Boring Company's first tunnel will now pave the way for the company's work in Chicago and Maryland, where it has negotiated contracts to build public transit systems. In late Nov. 2017, the City of Chicago announced a competition to build a high-speed transportation network from downtown Chicago to the O'Hare Airport.

By Feb. 2018, the mayor had announced the four contenders: The Boring Company, Oaktree Capital Management, O'Hare Express Train Partners, and O'Hare Xpress, LLC.

The Boring Company entered the contest with the proposal to transport passengers from downtown to the airport in 12 minutes using automated electric cars. Musk described using a "loop" system, in which 16 passengers (and their luggage) would be transported at speeds of over 100 mph in pods that depart every half-minute.

That's a tall order, especially after Musk's performance in Los Angeles, but in June 2018 Chicago nonetheless selected The Boring Company out of four competing bids. If The Boring Company successfully completes the tunnel, the private company's valuation could soar to as much as $16 billion.

Customs agencies in some states do not allow individuals to ship products called "flamethrowers." To get around this, Musk decided to call his product "not a flamethrower".  The Boring Company

Selling Recreational Flamethrowers

Elon Musk hasn’t been able to keep some of the promises he's made in the past, but when it comes to his Boring Company’s pledge to bring a recreational flamethrower to the market, the Tesla CEO appeared to deliver.

On Dec. 10, 2017, Musk vowed to make a Boring Company flamethrower if the company could sell 50,000 branded hats for $20 each and barely two days later, over half of the goal had been reached. By Christmas Eve, he announced on Twitter that the goal had been met.

Shortly after the release, Musk tweeted: "Apparently, some customs agencies are saying they won’t allow shipment of anything called a 'Flamethrower'. To solve this, we are renaming it 'Not a Flamethrower'."

Flamethrower or not, The Boring Company sold 20,000 units for $500 each on limited release, earning the company unprecedented media exposure and a potential $10 million in revenues.

Latest Innovations

In April 2021, The Boring Company completed the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) Loop—a 1.7-mile, two-tunnel system that connects the LVCC New Exhibit Hall and its original campus. The LVCC Loop was designed to reduce traveling time and traffic congestion.

The LVCC Loop reduced travel time between the Convention Center campuses from 45 minutes to two minutes.

The company also completed the 0.8-mile Hyperloop Test Track and 1.14-mile R&D Tunnel in Hawthorne, CA in 2016 and 2018, respectively. The Hyperloop Test Track is a hyperspeed public transportation tunnel system in which passengers travel in autonomous electric pods.

Not yet open to the public, the Test Track is used for competitions where participants design and build electric pods to travel Hyperloops. The R&D Tunnel was built to test the company's tunnel infrastructure and Loop and Hyperloop systems.

Under construction is the Vegas Loop, a 29-mile tunnel that will connect to the LVCC and 50 other stations along the Vegas strip, in downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas airport, and other locations. Also, the plan is to connect the Loop to stations in Los Angeles.

The Elon Musk Factor

As of April 13, 2023, Elon Musk is the second-richest man in the world, an off-and-on position currently enjoyed by Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Elon is the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, X Corp., and The Boring Company, and the founder of PayPal and other successful companies.

The Early Years

Born in South Africa to an engineer father and a fashion model mother, Musk was always fascinated with entrepreneurship and innovations. At the age of 10, he began to program computers and became so skilled that, at 12, he created and sold his first galactical computer game, Blastar.

At 17, Elon moved to Canada with his mother and attended Queen's University, where he spent two years before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. He finished his academic career in Pennsylvania, graduating with bachelor's degrees in Physics and in Economics.

Founder and CEO

Elon Musk's entrepreneurial passion and academic background led him to begin Zip2 with his brother, Kimbal, and partner, Greg Kouri, in 1995.

However, in 1999, Compaq purchased the software company for $340 million. With his sudden windfall, Musk formed X.com, which later became PayPal. Before Musk left the company, e-commerce platform eBay purchased PayPal for a whopping $1.5 billion.

$176 billion

The total net worth of Elon Musk as of April 13, 2023.

In 2002, Elon used his payout to found SpaceX, a space travel company, although it did not take off for years. In 2004, Elon Musk heavily invested millions in the then-startup Tesla Motors and was later recruited to join the founders to run the company. In 2007, the existing CEO was ousted and Musk was named CEO, a title he currently holds.

In 2022, Musk purchased X Corp., (formerly Twitter Inc.) and took the company private.

What Is the Value of The Boring Company?

The Boring Company is a private, independent company with no available financials; however, in April 2022, it was estimated that the company's valuation was $5.75 billion after raising $675 million in a Series C funding round.

What Is Prufrock?

Prufrock is a tunneling machine designed to dig at a greater speed than a traditional excavating machine and without a need to excavate to set up and retrieve the machine.

Can You Still Buy a Not-A-Flamethrower From The Boring Company?

The Boring Company is not currently selling Not-A-Flamethrowers as it is focusing on its current tunneling projects and products.

Are The Boring Company Flamethrowers Legal?

The Boring Company's flamethrowers are legal but have been subject to legal disputes. Some lawmakers have introduced bills to outlaw the devices, citing them as a public danger.

The Bottom Line

The Boring Company, far from what its name suggests, seeks to redefine our infrastructure and transportation systems via the use of tunnels. With successes such as the LVCC Loop system and RD Tunnel, this futuristic travel system may be arriving sooner than anticipated.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Dec. 17, 2016, 8:05 AM."

  2. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Dec. 17, 2016, 9:15 AM."

  3. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Dec. 17, 2016, 11:17 AM."

  4. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Aug. 7, 2018, 12:48 PM."

  5. Twitter. "Elon Musk, July 9, 2018, 6:05 PM."

  6. Twitter. "Elon Musk, May 23, 2018, 3:12 PM."

  7. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Jan. 25, 2017, 4:08 PM."

  8. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Dec. 17, 2016, 9:16 AM."

  9. Rolling Stone. "Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow."

  10. Bloomberg. "Elon Musk Is Really Boring."

  11. The Boring Company. "2013 Whitepaper: Hyperloop Alpha," Pages 9-11.

  12. The Boring Company. "Our Projects."

  13. The Boring Company. "Why Tunnels."

  14. The Boring Company. "Products."

  15. The Boring Company. "Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) Loop."

  16. The Boring Company. "R&D Tunnel - Hawthorne, CA."

  17. Wired. "Elon Musk's Boring Company Is Now All About Public Transit, and It's Confusing."

  18. Wired. "Elon Musk Unveils the Boring Company’s Car-Flinging Tunnel."

  19. City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor. "Mayor Emanuel Takes Next Step Towards Express Service Between O’Hare International Airport and Downtown Chicago."

  20. City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor. "Mayor Emanuel Announces Responses to RFQ for Express Service Between O'Hare International Airport and Downtown Chicago."

  21. City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor. "Mayor Emanuel Announces Company Selected to Build and Operate Chicago Express Service Between Downtown and O'Hare Airport."

  22. Markets Insider. "Elon Musk’s Boring Company Could Be Worth $16 Billion If It Builds a High-Speed Link Between Downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport."

  23. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Dec. 10, 2017, 10:11 AM."

  24. Fortune. "Elon Musk Has Sold $700,000 Worth of Boring Company Hats."

  25. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Dec. 24, 2017, 4:50 PM."

  26. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Feb. 2, 2018, 5:34 PM."

  27. CBSNews. "Elon Musk's Startup Has Sold Out of Flamethrowers."

  28. The Boring Company. "Loop Today, Hyperloop Tomorrow."

  29. The Boring Company. "Vegas Loop."

  30. Bloomberg. "Bloomberg Billionaire's Index."

  31. Bloomberg. "Bloomberg Billionaire's Index: Elon Musk."

  32. Ashlee Vance. "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," Chapter 2: Africa. HarperCollins Publishing, 2015.

  33. Gizmodo. “Elon Musk: The Tech Maverick Making Tony Stark Look Dull.”

  34. Inc. Magazine. "Elon Musk Just Said MBAs Are Overrated, and He's Dead Right."

  35. Esquire. "Elon Musk: Triumph of His Will."

  36. CNBC. "Elon Musk Tried to Pitch the Head of the Yellow Pages Before the Internet Boom: ‘He Threw the Book at Me’."

  37. Twitter. "Elon Musk, Dec. 28, 2019, 6:22 PM."

  38. YouTube. "Elon Musk Interview [I Made 180 Million Dollars but Still Had to Borrow Money for Rent]," 1:58 to 2:14 (Video).

  39. CNBC. "Elon Musk: ‘I Really Didn’t Want to be CEO of Tesla’—Here’s How He Says It Happened."

  40. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Form 8-K, Twitter, Inc."

  41. The Boring Company. "The Boring Company Series C Funding Round Announcement."

  42. The Boring Company. "Prufrock."

  43. The Boring Company. "Not-A-Flamethrower."

  44. California Legislative Information. "AB-1949 Explosives: Flamethrowing Devices.(2017-2018)."

Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.