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BiBop Gresta: Will History Know Your Name?

In this 7-part exploration into the past, present, and future, our Editor-in-Chief talks to the Founder of Hyperloop Italia and co founder of Hyperloop TT Bibop Gresta about the power of NO, transhumanism, the one overly-touted trait keeping you from realizing your full potential, and a glimpse into the future


April, 2023

World Economic Forum Summit

Visionaries, frequently branded as multipotentialites, are all endowed with the unique ability to pursue different endeavours seamlessly. When we hear of their larger-than-life pursuits, it is instructive to look at how they embraced and were successful in the first place—particularly in a culture that prioritizes the specialist, the expert, the so-called best in class in one particular area.

The founder of Hyperloop Italia, Bibop Gresta, is one such visionary. His vast range of talents and interests make his skillset impossible to fit into one proverbial box: DJ, Entertainer, Self-taught programmer leading a Canadian multinational at only 15 years old, Venture Capitalist, Pioneer in supersonic-speed transportation capsules– there is little the Tuscan native hasn’t attempted in half a century. This interview is yes about the future of travel, but it is also a journey into the mindset of a visionary. An attempt to extract the principles that separate a passive observer from the active doer trying to make a difference in this world.

Bibop Gresta


By twelve years old, Bibop had become an accomplished programmer and musician. Seeing his son for the prodigy that he was, his father struck a deal with the wildly curious boy: Bibop could use the computer, even offering to finance a database programming course at IBM, in exchange for help with his business management applications.

Bibop jokingly calls the arrangement “underhanded blackmail.” By 16, Bibop quickly established himself as both a programmer and DJ. He recorded twenty-one records in six years while founding BIBOP—a new-media incubator and Italy’s first cross-media agency. In 1998, at the dawn of the Internet. Telecom, now TIM S.p.A., Italy’s largest telecommunications service provider, set its sights on Bibop’s start-up purchasing forty percent of the company for 11 billion lire.

View of Terni
Bibop, born in Terni in 1971, attended the M. Buonarroti Technical Commercial Institute in Arezzo, where the advent of programming prodigies was still far in the future, and certainly not in this Tuscan town.

GIOVANNA: Where did the name BIBOP come from?

BIBOP: It came from my mother. She was listening to jazz music when I was young. She was really sad at the time, but she was only happy when she put on this kind of music. She nicknamed me Bebop and I imagined it spelled B-I-B-O-P the Italian way. And it stuck!

GIOVANNA: In your best-selling book “Hyperloop: History and Technology Of The 1,223 Km/h Capsule That Will Revolutionise The World Of Transport”, you talk about getting your hands on your father’s computer—A thing you were explicitly told not to touch.

BIBOP: I was just a child, and my father bought a computer and a keyboard. He said, “Do whatever you want, but don’t touch that computer or keyboard!”

It became an obsession.

That was the first big NO of my life.

There was a ladder to climb to enter this magical room where the magic was happening. It was an escape and a big learning curve because it was forbidden. I had a limited time to read the code in this English magazine. I had to decode what was written in there and then copy it, and by typing RUN, you can see the results of all this code, and for me, it was magic!

I later discovered that you could change results by changing parameters. That’s when the fun began!

GIOVANNA: At 15 you were supervising the software development arm of a multinational Canadian company— You’re looking at me like this is a normal thing—but you do realize it’s not normal, right?

BIBOP: (Laughing) It was instrumental because it was really pushing me to get more responsibility. I became the head of business programming for a multinational when I was a kid (reflective pause), coordinating real engineers.


GIOVANNA: Then came Digital Magics, an incubator for innovative high-tech start-ups

BIBOP: I love Italy. At the time, we represented 20% of the Italian innovation market through Digital Magics, the incubator I founded. Not because I’m cool but because the Italian innovation market sucks.

GIOVANNA: Still or then?

[Deep pause]

BIBOP: Whatever! (Laughing) BEEP!

GIOVANNA: What is the difference between passion and curiosity?

BIBOP: So for a kid before following their passion, they need to discover who they are and what makes them vibrate. Your curiosity should drive you. Go out and discover the world, especially beginning in the first 30 years. Please don’t be passionate. Be curious.

GIOVANNA: What advice would you give to students of any age?

BIBOP: Go around the world. Discover different things because the passion will lead you to your comfort zone, something you feel like you really belong, and usually, it’s created by something else that is not you. If you follow your curiosity, you’re open to discovering new things, and then when you find out where you vibrate, you can become passionate but never stay still. Change a lot!

GIOVANNA: In defining one’s career path, you said something unexpected. You said Don’t be —

BIBOP: Don’t be passionate! Be curious! We live in a world where false stimuli bombard us. They create an entire market out of creating a false need. So you feel like you are passionate about something because you saw a subtle advertisement somewhere, and now all of a sudden, you’re a squash player, but in reality, you don’t know what you really need in this kind of environment.


rendering of Hyperloop capsule

Our society has placed the artist and the scientist at opposite ends of the spectrum.

— Bibop Gresta

GIOVANNA: You have been successful in both technical and artistic pursuits. But you refuse to be called an expert in anything.

BIBOP: Success is not measured by being the best. It usually means to have decrypted the topic. So usually, the number one of something is not the best at that particular discipline. Don’t believe in experts.


BIBOP: Because we are in such an expanded knowledge society where you can’t be an expert, it’s impossible because something new comes into the market as soon as you learn something new. If you say you’re the best, you stick to something vertically. You decrypted the algorithm to become number one, but number one only means one thing: You slipped through the cracks.

GIOVANNA: In your book, you talk about the polarization between arts and science. You have been successful at marrying the two.

BIBOP: When I talk about arts and science, I refer to the fact that I was able to decode the world of art by having successful records and tv shows and design technologies that were successful. Still, in reality, there is no difference between the two. Artists and scientists are the same.

GIOVANNA: In what way?

BIBOP: Is Leonardo Da Vinci a painter or a scientist?

An artist in the 15th century was a scientist. Unfortunately, then some crazy thing happened. Sometimes history plays some strange tricks on us. The people who were paying artists were mainly the church. They were the ones who commissioned the art. When the artists that were scientists started to understand science, saying wait a minute, maybe the earth isn’t the centre of the universe, the commissioner didn’t like that. So do you want to tell the truth about science or stay an artist? There was a big split between the two, and it’s crazy that in our universities, we divide science and art like two antagonists, which was the biggest crime we committed to culture.

GIOVANNA: How can we, or can we, fix this?

BIBOP: We must reform the university and rethink critical thinking, starting with the kids. That would be the most important thing. The first biggest mistake is our identity. We should throw away our identity. If you identify with something, take it and burn it in the beautiful pit of the mass market.

BIBOP: How did you do that?

I did it because I did not recognize myself in anything or anyone. So that was easy for me because I needed my own thing. I was Bibop.


After twenty years of living as a super hamster, I needed something new to make sense of my existence. I dreamed of finding an idea that could change the world.
— Bibop Gresta

After listing Digital Magics on the stock exchange with great success and following the birth of more than thirty start-ups and having been on the board of a couple of listed companies in Europe, in 2013, something changed.


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