Virgin Orbit, Richard Branson’s satellite launch firm, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, had received a preliminary offer of a $200m rescue package from Texas-based investor, Matthew Brown. The preliminary deal was agreed within two days, with Brown offering to transfer the money into an escrow account. However, the deal unravelled less than a week later, with Virgin Orbit severing contact and threatening legal action against Brown, whom they accused of breaching a non-disclosure agreement.
The failed deal has raised questions about what the future holds for Virgin Orbit, who have been struggling financially since their launch failure in May. The company is now left with a difficult decision to make; either seek additional financing from another investor or shut down operations and layoff staff. Whatever happens next, it’s clear that Branson’s ambition of transforming Virgin Orbit into a major player in the satellite launch industry will remain unfulfilled for the foreseeable future. Despite this setback, however, many analysts believe that there is still hope for Virgin Orbit as they continue to explore other options available to them.
The previously unreported details provide an insight into the failed scramble to avoid bankruptcy. The cease-and-desist letter was in response to an interview Brown gave on CNBC, stating he was in “final discussions” to close the $200m investment in Virgin Orbit within 24 hours. The company had cut contact with Brown, claiming it had uncovered issues with his credibility, having found evidence that contradicted details Brown had provided about his background.
There were apparent discrepancies in several key elements of assertions made by Brown on CNBC or on LinkedIn about the companies where he had worked, his investments, and associates. Brown denied the accusations, but Reuters found no evidence of several of the companies he had claimed to have worked for. Virgin Orbit’s bankruptcy filing revealed that “Matthew Brown” held 238 shares in the company at the time of the filing.
Those shares were worth $48 on Thursday. Brown claimed that the listed investor was a different Matthew Brown. The central bank said it had no record of having employed McDermott. Brown said he worked for Woods Family Office, a Houston-based private wealth firm, from 2008 to 2021, managing $6bn from the age of 18. The family office did not reply to a request for comment.
The story of Matthew Brown highlights how easy it is for someone with access to technology and resources such as a fake website can potentially deceive employers by presenting false information about themselves.
This underscores the need for employers to verify claims made by potential hires, especially if they are highly sought-after candidates with few qualifications or references available publicly. Additionally, companies should review their hiring procedures regularly and make sure that they have proper checks in place when screening applicants.