Virgin Galactic stock continues its plunge


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Virgin Galactic stock price, Nov 15 to Nov 21

Capitalism in space: The stock price for Virgin Galactic has continued to fall since it went public on October 28.

The graph on the right shows the trend in the last week, dropping from about $9.50 to $8.75. The stock had opened in October at $12.93 and quickly dropped to that $9.50 number. The more recent drop occurred after the company released its first quarterly report on November 13.

At some point the stock price will stabilize, though I suspect it will have to drop a bit more before that happens. It will then probably rise if or when they finally launch some flights, with paying passengers on board.

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3 comments

  • Chris Lopes

    If and when is the question. Virgin had the inside track after the SpaceShip One flight, but Branson got caught up in his own hype and over promised. I’m still not convinced this isn’t just a vanity project for him.

  • Dick Eagleson

    All of Branson’s projects are vanity projects. VG just hasn’t worked out as well as most of the others.

    The biggest cause of this, I think, is that Branson – for reasons I’m entirely unable to fathom – has obdurately refused to do with VG what he has done for previous Virgin Group businesses, namely change approaches when the current one is obviously not working.

    Branson got his start running a retail record store which eventually became a chain which moved up the value-add ladder by starting an associated record label. Branson eventually sold off or closed the stores when the brick-and-mortar retail record business cratered in the wake of the iPod and iPhone. He even sold off the record label to raise the capital needed to launch Virgin Atlantic.

    VG is a notable exception to Branson’s usual business perspicacity. He has stuck with a fundamentally un-growable and marginal technology base for 15 years and has achieved not only no success with it, but has not even achieved operational status. Perhaps, at long last, this convoluted recent scheme via which VG “went public” by being acquired is Branson, in essence, throwing in the towel, cashing out and finally putting VG effectively behind him. We’ll have to see.

    With VG, Branson has been, essentially, the anti-Musk of NewSpace – not in the sense of being an enemy of Musk but of being his complete opposite as a space business company owner. Musk has always been cheerfully willing to abandon anything that doesn’t work in favor of something that does – Falcon 1, Falcon 5, Merlin 2, Falcon XX, an SHS factory on the L.A. docks, use of carbon fiber composite for SHS’s structure, big tooling to build same – and, most recently, Starship Mk1.

    Branson’s VG, in contrast, is like a fly in amber, unchanging and monomaniacally flogging a horse that looked alive in 2004 but has proven, long since, to be dead.

    There was a software development concept that enjoyed a brief vogue in the 80’s called ego-less programming. It never caught on. But Musk has, in effect, built SpaceX on a base of ego-less engineering. The company’s matter-of-fact attitude toward occasional failures stands in marked contrast to the engineering cultures regnant in most of the rest of aerospace – VG, sadly, included.

  • Edward

    Dick Eagleson,
    I don’t know about Musk and ego-less engineering, but it seems to me that he does not fall into the sunk-cost fallacy trap. He adapts quickly to changing conditions. This is also clearly seen in the changes to BFR (Starship-Super Heavy) between the time of his first announcement of this project to today, in which he adapted to new ideas that seem to ease or quicken its development.

    However, Falcon Heavy shows us that Musk’s adaptations are not too quick, as he put up with it seeming too difficult for the perceived benefits — twice almost cancelling it but not moving too quick on that choice — yet the end result seems to have been worth the effort. Not only has Falcon Heavy allowed SpaceX to enter a new range of payloads, but it provided new hope for commercial space’s ability to develop advanced hardware and methods as well as provided inspiration for various missions or to do missions differently, such as a return to the Moon. If BFR does not work out, then Falcon Heavy continues to provide a way to get heavy unmanned payloads to various destinations, such as the Moon.

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