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How to Fix SPACs

Lynn E. Turner, a former chief accountant for the Securities and Exchange Commission, called the proposed fix “an excellent idea.” Because sponsors are the ones advertising “here’s what we’re going to do in this time period,” he said, “they should be locked into that.”Mr. Palihapitiya was less enthusiastic.“This isn’t a very good idea,” he told me. “Why would a sponsor agree to a five-year lockup when management wouldn’t, nor would other investors including PIPE investors?” (At the time of the deal, institutional investors are often invited to buy shares with favorable terms through what’ …

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Max Q: Starship’s good landing (and less good post-landing)

Max Q is a weekly newsletter from TechCrunch all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Mondays in your inbox.
Sometimes even the biggest successes look like failures on video. That’s the theme of this week, because the biggest news by far was SpaceX’s test launch of its latest Starship prototype in South Texas.
It looked fake — but the fireball proved it wasn’t
SpaceX’s test flight was a launch of the 10th Starship prototype, to a height of around 32,000 feet, at which point it used its Raptor engines to flip into a flop …

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Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sells off remaining personal stake in the space company

The man who arguably ushered in the current SPAC rush with the merger of Virgin Galactic with his Social Capital Hedosophia holding company has divested the remainder of his personal holdings in the space tourism company. Chamath Palihapitiya, who serves as the Chairman of Virgin Galactic’s board, still holds 6.2% ownership in the company in partnership with investor Ian Osborne, but his solo holdings are now at zero.
Palihapitiya sold 3.8 million shares in December 2020, noting that he was selling that equity “to help manage [his] liquidity” in order to provide funding for “several new projects starting in 2021.” At the time, …

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As the SPAC frenzy continues, questions arise about how much the market can absorb

Another week and the biggest story in a sea of big stories continues to center on SPACs, these blank-check companies that raise capital through IPOs expressly to acquire a privately held company and take it public. But some industry watchers as starting to wonder: Is the party just getting started, with more early guests still trickling in? Have we reached the party’s peak, with the music still thumping? Or did someone just quietly barf in the corner, an indicator it’s time to wrap things up before something worse happens?
It certainly feels like things are in full swing. …

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Is any company too big to be SPAC’d?

While many deemed 2020 the year of SPAC, short for special purpose acquisition company, 2021 may well make last year look quaint in comparison.
It’s probably not premature to be asking: is there any company too big to be SPAC’d?
Just today, we saw the trading debut of the most valuable company to date go public through a merger with one of these SPACs: 35-five-year-old, Pontiac, Michigan-based United Wholesale Mortgage, which is among the biggest mortgage companies in the U.S.
Its shares slipped a bit by the end of trading, closing at $11.35 down from their starting price of $11.54, but …

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Watch Virgin Orbit launch a rocket to space from a modified 747 for the first time

Virgin Orbit scored a major success on Sunday, with a test flight that not only achieved its goals of reaching space and orbit, but also of delivering payloads on board for NASA, marking its first commercial mission, too. The launch was a success in every possible regard, which puts Virgin Orbit on track to becoming an active launch provider for small payloads for both commercial and defense customers.

Today’s sequence of events for #LaunchDemo2 went exactly to plan, from safe execution of our ground ops all the way through successful full duration burns on both engines. To say we’re thrilled …

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Virgin Orbit reaches orbit for the first time

Virgin Orbit launched its LauncherOne rocket to orbit for the first time today, with a successful demonstration mission that carried a handful of satellites and delivered them successfully to low Earth orbit on behalf of NASA. It’s a crucial milestone for the small satellite launch company, and the first time the company has shown that its hybrid carrier aircraft/small payload orbital delivery rocket works as intended, which should set the company up to begin commercial operations of its launch system very soon.
This is the second attempt at reaching orbit for Virgin Orbit, after a first try in …

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