Chamath Palihapitiya stepping down from Virgin Galactic's board

Palihapitiya is leaving to focus on other public company board commitments

Virgin Galactic board chairman Chamath Palihapitiya has announced he will step down from the aerospace giant's board of directors. 

VIRGIN GALACTIC READIES SPACEFLIGHT TICKET SALES

Palihapitiya joined Virgin Galactic's board in 2019 after it went public through a merger with his special purpose acquisition company, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. VI.

Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and chief executive officer of Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp., speaks during an interview following Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.'s initial public offering (IPO) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYS (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"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 said in a statement. "As I close this chapter in order to focus on other existing and upcoming public board responsibilities, I am proud to leave the team in such capable hands and I look forward to watching their success for years to come, and one day flying to space with them."

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SPCE VIRGIN GALACTIC HOLDINGS INC. 6.48 +0.20 +3.18%
IPOF SOCIAL CAP HEDOSOPHIA HLDGS CORP VI 9.97 +0.02 +0.20%

In December 2020, Palihapitiya tweeted that he sold 3.8 million Virgin Galactic shares to help manage his liquidity and fund "several new projects" in 2021. He proceeded to sell another 6.2 million Virgin Galactic shares in March 2021, worth over $200 million at the time. Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings still owns about 15.8 million Virgin Galactic shares. 

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Palihapitiya's departure comes days after Virgin Galactic opened ticket sales to the public for its commercial spaceflights, which are on track to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022. 

The rocket plane carrying Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and other crew members takes off from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Sunday, July 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton) (AP Newsroom)

Virgin Group chief investment officer Evan Lovell, who has served on Virgin Galactic's board since 2017, will step into the role of interim chair until a permanent replacement is selected. Executive search firm Spencer Stuart has been tapped to lead the recruitment effort. 

Shares of Virgin Galactic are down about 37% year-to-date.