Sir Richard Branson beat Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos by listing his venture in New York.
Publicity-hungry billionaires must have a space venture, and here’s Sir Richard Branson’s: Virgin Galactic is now a stock market-listed company with a $2.4bn valuation. Actual space tourists won’t depart until next year, but Branson has beaten Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in getting his business floated in New York.
Galactic, despite the whizzy-looking planes, is quite a simple financial bet. It’s a punt that multimillionaires can be persuaded in droves to part with $250,000 – the price of a ticket to ride from New Mexico to 50 miles above the Earth’s surface and back. Galactic is projecting revenues of $590m and top-line earnings of $270m in 2023, by which time it expects to have flown 3,242 passengers. Who are they all supposed to be?
The marketing pitch is that a trip on Galactic makes for a more entertaining holiday for the super-rich than a tootle around the Med on a floating gin palace. A Philip Green-style cruiser costs $500,000 a week to hire, apparently. And a private island comes in at $230,000 a week, according to Branson’s crew, who presumably have the inside track on Necker’s rental rates. Thus Galactic, according to the grim prose in the listing documents, “offers a unique value proposition relative to comparably priced ultra luxury travel and transportation experiences”.