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Virgin Orbit COO email calls out company leadership for failures

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The modified 747 aircraft “Cosmic Girl” lifts off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California carrying a LauncherOne rocket on June 30, 2021.

Virgin Orbit

With Virgin Orbit now under bankruptcy protection, departing Chief Operating Officer Tony Gingiss had some choice words for the company’s leadership, as well as a lengthy and detailed apology to its employees.

“You deserved better than this!” Gingiss wrote in a companywide email on Monday, which was obtained by CNBC.

“You have been part of something audacious, challenging, and fulfilling [but] … You simply did not have the leadership or opportunity to demonstrate to the world what you can fully do and how this product could be an enduring force in the market,” Gingiss said.

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Virgin Orbit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday after ceasing operations last week. The company noted in a securities filing that Gingiss was laid off as one of the 675 positions eliminated.

Gingiss’ email appears to call out Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart, although not by name, and offers an apology to employees that they “have not heard from the person who should be saying it.”

“I’m sorry that I was not able to convince our leader and board to take a different path to give us more time to figure things out,” Gingiss said in the email.

A Virgin Orbit spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Read the full email from Gingiss:

Dear Virgin Orbit and Virgin Orbit National Systems current and former employees,

Like many of you, today is my last day at Virgin Orbit. The last 26 months I spent as your COO have a lot positives for me including; learning how we build our rocket, working with a multi-talented team to do so, successfully launching 3 rockets and delivering our Customers into orbit, making new friends and colleagues, and experiencing a challenging and team-building Spaceport Cornwall first launch campaign to name a few.  Thank you for everything you gave to me personally and to the dream of Virgin Orbit.  I appreciate it and, I appreciate you!  That said, we are at a crossroads and I wanted to say…

You deserved better than this!

I don’t say this lightly as I know the current situation is emotionally, mentally and financially challenging for many of us.  You have been part of something audacious, challenging, and fulfilling … you created an entirely new air-launch system that has a unique, responsive, anywhere (including Spaceport Cornwall), anytime, unwarned capability that there is definitely a market for, and demonstrated it worked 4 (almost 5) times! You simply did not have the leadership or opportunity to demonstrate to the world what you can fully do and how this product could be an enduring force in the market.

I want to say something to you, that you have not heard from the person who should be saying it, so I will … I’m sorry and I apologize:

· I’m sorry that I was not able to help us avoid this outcome

· I’m sorry we didn’t act sooner and avoid surprising you and so many of our supporters and customers with this abrupt finale

· I’m sorry that we didn’t prioritize our people and financial resources better

· I’m sorry that you have to bear the burden of being out of a job, one that I know many of you loved and that fed you both literally and figuratively

· And for me, I’m sorry that I was not able to convince our leader and board to take a different path to give us more time to figure things out

· I’m sorry and I apologize, plain and simple … you deserved better!

We ended up where we are despite my best efforts to affect our path forward.

This chapter is now done, but our book is not finished. I know what a talented team you are as most of you were part of my Engineering and Operations team and the rest of you worked so closely with us, as our partners, to do the amazing things we have done.  I know what good people you are and how big of an impact you have made and will continue to make.  Please take away all of the good experience, knowledge, memories, skills, and relationships that you have gained at VO.  Go boldly onto your next adventure and bring that special you that you brought to Virgin Orbit.  While we did not succeed in the endeavor of making Virgin Orbit a force in the industry we must use this event to spread the ripple of our talents, dreams, creativity and energy into the industries and world to make them a better place.  In this way, on some level, it will all be worth it.

It has been my fortune and privilege to be your COO and colleague.  I wish you the best in whatever your next chapter is. I stand here ready and willing to help in any way I can; a shoulder to cry on (but I’ll tell you to shake it off ;-), a hand to help, a recommendation to give, a drink to share, another adventure to have … whatever.  Reach out to me if I can help in some way and God-speed in whatever path you choose to take.

“Second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning!”

Per ardua ad astra …

With my best regards and until we meet again!

Tony

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