Virgin Galactic changing CEOs, bringing on Disney's Michael Colglazier


Virgin Galactic’s chief space officer George Whitesides, left, and chief executive officer Michael Colglazier.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic announced on Wednesday that George Whitesides would step aside as CEO, with the space tourism venture appointing former Disney executive Michael Colglazier.

Whitesides will stay on with the company in a new role, serving as its chief space officer.

“I want to thank George for his outstanding leadership of Virgin Galactic over the last decade. He has shown dedication and determination as its first CEO to build the Company from early stage development through to space flight, the first from American soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle,” Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson said in a statement.

Colglazier was most recently the president and managing director of Disney Parks International, the culmination of more than 30 years at the media and entertainment giant.

“I believe Michael’s long and distinguished career at one of the world’s leading customer experience brands provides a natural fit with Virgin’s culture as well as Galactic’s requirements as it prepares for commercial service,” Branson said.

The CEO changeover will be effective next Monday. Whitesides will also step down fro Virgin Galactic’s board of directors, with Colglazier taking his place.

Shares of Virgin Galactic rose nearly 4% in after-hours trading from its close of $18.55.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides

CNBC | Michael Sheetz

Whitesides has served as the CEO of the company for 10 years, growing the company from a team of 30 to its current workforce of over 900.

The company said that Whitesides new role will have him focus on developing Virgin Galactic’s future business, including its more long-term opportunities like hypersonic travel.

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