May 24, 2022

Virgin Galactic board chairman Chamath Palihapitiya steps down from post

Chamath Palihapitiya, chairman of Virgin Galactic, is stepping down from the space-tourism enterprise’s board of directors, with the move taking effect immediately, as CNBC reports.

As the outlet noted, a special purpose acquisition company led by Palihapitiya was responsible for taking the aerospace company public in late 2019, and while shares exceeded $60 last year, they recently dropped below their initial public price amid news that commercial space flight service will be delayed until the fourth quarter of this year.

According to Fox Business, the now-former board chairman sold nearly four million shares in Virgin Galactic at the end of 2020, a move he said was intended to fund “several new projects” and facilitate liquidity.

Palihapitiya reportedly sold an additional 6.2 million Virgin Galactic shares in the spring of 2021, though the aforementioned special purpose acquisition company retains ownership of roughly 15.8 million shares.

According to a statement issued upon news of his decision, Palihapitiya said, “It has been an honor to help guide Virgin Galactic through some of its greatest milestones to date, including taking the company public, building a strong capital base for future growth, and assembling a best-in-class management team to bring the company to even greater heights.”

He also explained his plan to “focus on other existing and upcoming public board responsibilities” and noted that he is “proud to leave the team in such capable hands” and fully intends to fly to space with the company some day.

CNBC also reported that Evan Lovell, a current director on the company’s board, will step into the role of interim chairman, with a permanent replacement to be chosen at a later date.

News of the board shakeup comes just days after the company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson opened ticket sales for trips to the edge of space to members of the general public, as NBC News reported.

For a mere $450,000, ticket holders can save their seat on a future suborbital adventure that will last 90 minutes, send them to an altitude of over 50 miles, and include approximately four minutes of weightlessness – certainly an experience of a lifetime for those able to afford it.

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