As Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit failed to secure long term investment following a failed launch in January, the company was forced to lay off 85 per cent of its workforce last week. This development had been coming for a few weeks now as the company had announced an ‘operational pause’ on March 15th, 2023 where it began furloughing its employees as a cost cutting measure.
With the layoffs came the announcement that the satellite launch company will be filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy at the US bankruptcy court, looking for the sale of its assets.
Reacting to the layoffs, laid off chief operating officer, Tony Gingiss expressed his frustrations with the lack of accountability from the leadership at Virgin Orbit in a lengthy email to the company’s employees.
Gingiss begins the letter talking about the accomplishments of the team working at Virgin Orbit. He writes about how great a learning experience it was for him and complemented the team’s efforts in building and launching three successful rockets in his time at the company.
After expressing his gratitude in the first paragraph he highlights the fact that the laid off employees “deserved better than this”.
In the letter he talks about the challenges the team at Virgin Orbit faced and that they “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 apologise,” is what he said before listing out some of things he could have done to have avoided this situation.
Among the many things he lists out, Gingiss mentions the fact that he is sorry that he could not convince the leader at the company, in this case CEO Dan Hart and the board, to take a different path to give the team more time to figure things out.
In the end, he reiterates the fact that the employees at the organisation deserved more and that he hopes everyone on his team and beyond take away all of the good experience, knowledge, memories, skills, and relationships that they have gained at Virgin Orbit.
He also urges the employees to reach out to him in case they need any help trying to navigate through the chaos and hopes they move on to their next opportunities as fast as possible.
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