1 of 4 | Virgin Orbit is laying off nearly all of its workforce after the satellite launch company founded by Richard Branson failed to secure new funding, its chief executive confirmed Thursday. File Photo courtesy of Virgin Orbit
March 30 (UPI) -- Virgin Orbit is laying off nearly all of its workforce after the satellite launch company founded by Richard Branson failed to secure new funding, its chief executive confirmed Thursday.
The California-based company laid off approximately 85% of its workforce by the end of the business day, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It expects that figure to hit 90% and the company will retain only about 100 positions.
In the filing, the company said it expects to lose about $8.8 million in employee severance and benefit payments, and it said it expects Virgin to lose $15 million overall.
About $10.9 million of that will come from parent company Virgin Investments Ltd., in the form of a senior secured convertible note.
"Unfortunately, we've not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company," CEO Dan Hart told employees, in audio obtained by CNBC Thursday.
"We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic, and extremely painful changes."
The company's stock plunged on the news. Shares of Virgin Orbit fell 39.75% or $0.14 in after-hours trading, to $0.20 as of 6:26 p.m. EDT.
Earlier this month, Virgin Orbit furloughed nearly 600 of its employees and suspended operations after a failed satellite launch.
A week later, the company said in an SEC filing it would start an "incremental resumption of its operations."
Thursday's news the company was unable to secure new funding means the restart will not happen.
"This company, this team -- all of you -- mean a hell of a lot to me. And I have not, and will not, stop supporting you, whether you're here on the journey or if you're elsewhere," Hart said in the audio.
The company was founded almost exactly six years ago by Branson, the British billionaire, with its LauncherOne rocket first reaching orbit in 2021.