- Chamath Palihapitiya is stepping down as Virgin Galactic’s chairman effective immediately, the company said Friday.
- Virgin’s director Evan Lovell has been appointed interim chairman.
- Palihapitiya sold his entire stake in Virgin last year for $211 million, saying he had to release capital to keep “investing at scale.”
Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya has stepped down as Virgin Galactic’s chairman and board member, the company announced on Friday.
Virgin’s board has been appointed director Evan Lovell as interim chairman until a replacement is found.
The company didn’t provide a specific reason for Palihapitiya’s departure, aside from saying he will focus on other corporate commitments.
Palihapitiya, the founder and CEO of Social Capital, is a tech investor and former Facebook executive. He’s created at least six special purpose acquisition companies, earning him the label of ”
One of those ventures, Social Capital Hedosophia, helped take Virgin public via a SPAC merger in October 2019. He had joined Virgin’s board as its chairman at the same time.
“Chamath was instrumental in the launch of Virgin Galactic as a public company and, as our inaugural chair, his deep and astute insights have been incredibly valuable to both me and the company as we have grown and strengthened our business foundation,” Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic’s CEO, said in a statement.
“We’ve always known the time would come when he would shift his focus to new projects and pursuits,” he added.
A securities filing from March last year showed Palihapitiya cashed out his entire personal stake in Virgin for $211 million. He confirmed in a tweet that he had to release the capital to “keep investing at scale.”
—Chamath Palihapitiya (@chamath) March 6, 2021
Palihapitiya said he was leaving Virgin to “focus on other existing and upcoming public board responsibilities” and is looking forward to “one day flying to space” with the company.
Virgin’s method of going public is often credited with launching a wave of SPACs, which became one of the biggest cracks on Wall Street in 2021. SPACs are shell companies that are listed on the stock market with the sole aim of finding a takeover target. They’re a cheaper alternative to traditional IPOs for private companies looking to go public.
Virgin’s stock has been on a bumpy ride in the past 12 months, falling 85% from its high one year ago. Its shares were last down 10% at Thursday’s close, but had risen 1.3% at Friday’s pre-market session to $9.13 a share.
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