Richard Branson was long a force to be reckoned with in the booming private space business.
The British serial entrepreneur beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to the first cosmic tourist trip with his Virgin Galactic venture. Branson's second space foray, Virgin Orbit, strapped rockets under the wing of a jumbo jet to launch satellites on their flight path, complete with mission monikers like “Start Me Up.”
But Branson, whose Virgin Group has pumped more than $1 billion into Virgin Orbit – including $60 million in the past six months — hasn't recently put in the money now needed to prop up the venture, Bloomberg reports. That's forcing the company to speak to external investors such as little-known Texas-based venture capital funder Matthew Brown, who has been touting himself as a possible savior of a business that was worth billions just a year ago.
Branson's reserve coincides with growing caution among investors in an industry in which the technical risks are as high as the costs to surmount them.
After going public in 2021 through a merger with NextGen Acquisition II in a $3.7 billion deal, Virgin Orbit's listed shares are now valued at just $217 million. Read more.
Source: Billionaire Branson Sits Out Virgin Orbit's Costly Flameout