Long Beach-Based Virgin Orbit Going Public via SPAC, Valued At $3.2 Billion

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Virgin Orbit, the four-year-old spinout of Richard Branson's space firm Virgin Galactic is merging with NextGen Acquisition Corp. 11 at the end of the year to become a publicly traded company under the NASDAQ ticker VORB.

The merger will provide the company with up to $483 million in new capital, Virgin Orbit predicts - $383 million from NextGen, and $100 million in PIPE that includes investors such as AE Industrial Partners and Boeing.

It's a win for Southern California's aerospace industry, which is home to both Virgin Orbit and Elon Musk's SpaceX along with the Space Force's new technology and acquisition arm. It also follows a string of space companies going public - launch firm Astra went public in June, and Long Beach-based Rocket Lab is slated to go public via SPAC this week.

Virgin Orbit put its money into the so-called "horizontal launch" method that launches rockets horizontally from the air at roughly 35,000 feet above sea level, rather than vertically from the ground, which, the company said, allows for more flexibility in when and where rockets are launched.

A Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket launches via the company's so-called "horizontal launch" method.

The company most recently launched the Netherlands' first rocket into space using a modified Boeing 747 aircraft in June following a successful second launch test of its LauncherOne rocket and its first commercial mission to send supplies to NASA.

NextGen's co-founders, George Mattson and Greg Summe, are longtime investors in the aerospace industry, working closely with Delta Airlines, Virgin Galactic and divisions of Honeywell in various roles as executives. Summe said during an investor webcast the pair raised money "with the mission to find a high-growth technology company with a rapidly growing market, highly differentiating capability, and an outstanding leadership team."

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Here’s the Latest on Fifth Wall’s Early-Stage Climate Tech Fund

Harrison Weber

Harrison is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. They previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find them on Twitter: @harrisonweber. Send non-sensitive tips on L.A. deals to harrison@dot.la. Pronouns: they/them.

Do you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely by downloading Signal on a non-work device: +1 917 434 4978.

Fifth Wall, the fast-growing real estate tech venture firm, revealed this week that it has scored at least $116.8 million for its Early-Stage Climate Technology Fund, according to an amended SEC filing. That figure is up from $79.5 million in May 2021, when the firm last disclosed its fundraising efforts for the climate investment vehicle.

In December, Fifth Wall announced it had brought in prolific clean-tech investor Greg Smithies to head its efforts to "decarbonize the built world." That's when the firm went public about its plan to raise at least $200 million to invest in climate tech.

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HP Is Piloting an Autonomous, Electric-Powered Trucking Service from LA

David Shultz
David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many defects in our society, but chief among them may be the fragility of our supply chains. From toilet paper to bicycles to lumber, the virus has shown that even relatively minor disruptions to the chain can cause long-term shortages of important goods.

In Los Angeles, a San Francisco-based autonomous trucking company is carrying out a new pilot program with computer hardware giant HP Inc. In the next couple of years, the startup wants to reduce emissions and transit times in HP's supply chains. And if it's successful, expand the model to other companies.

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Tradesy Is Leading Shoppers Away from Fast Fashion, and Investors Are Buying Into It

Sarah Favot

Favot is an award-winning journalist and adjunct instructor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She previously was an investigative and data reporter at national education news site The 74 and local news site LA School Report. She's also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. She was a Livingston Award finalist in 2011 and holds a Master's degree in journalism from Boston University and BA from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Tracy DiNunzio wants to kill fast fashion.

Founder and CEO of Santa Monica-based Tradesy, DiNunzio said over the last decade consumers are recognizing the harmful effects of low-priced, rapidly-produced fast fashion on the global climate. She argues that in addition to being environmentally conscious, buying and reselling high-end fashion items can also be affordable.

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