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Firefly founder stepping down as CEO

Capitalism in space: Tom Markusic, the founder of the smallsat rocket startup Firefly, is now stepping down as CEO, apparently forced out by the company’s new investors.

The company said that Markusic would shift from chief executive to a new role of chief technical advisor, effective June 16. He will remain a member of the company’s board and a “significant minority investor” in the company.

The move comes four months after AE Industrial Partners (AEI), a private equity firm, agreed to acquire a “significant stake” in Firefly from Noosphere Venture Partners, which sold its interest in Firefly at the request of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Noopshere is a fund run by Ukrainian-born investor Max Polyakov. In March, AEI said it was leading Firefly’s $75 million Series B round.

The statement suggested that Firefly’s new owners wanted new leadership for the company as it prepares a second launch of its Alpha rocket. That launch is expected no earlier than mid-July from Vandenberg Space Force Base, nearly a year after the first Alpha launch failed.

Essentially, the two people that created this company and then saved it have been forced outt, largely as a result of federal government demands. Polyakov was forced to sell to AEI by the government because he was not American, and it appears AEI then forced Markusic out.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

6 comments

  • Realist

    That too is capitalism. One of his ugly traits.

  • Realist

    duheagle : • 4 hours ago

    “We’ll see. Kicking Markusic upstairs might easily be just a preliminary to quietly piping him down the road. Ex-SpaceX-er Lauren Lyons, whom Markusic hired with much fanfare some months ago as COO, left the company with a complete lack of fanfare coincident with the AEI Partners deal. Markusic may turn out to be just the last stitch in a complete upper management transplant for Firefly.”

  • Col Beausabre

    “The move comes four months after AE Industrial Partners (AEI), a private equity firm, agreed to acquire a “significant stake” in Firefly from Noosphere Venture Partners, which sold its interest in Firefly at the request of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Noopshere is a fund run by Ukrainian-born investor Max Polyakov.”

    We certainly can’t have those shady characters from Ukraine jeopardizing US National Security. You just can’t trust them or anything they say. Oh, wait a minute…

  • Concerned

    I don’t see anything particularly innovative or a great game-changer in the market of orbital access with this company. Yeah, they’ve managed to build and launch some hardware, but that’s only a necessary condition for success. A sufficient condition is that killer app that sets them apart, which I just don’t see, There is definitely a bubble in the launch service market now, and only a very few will survive.

  • Edward

    Concerned wrote: “[T]hey’ve managed to build and launch some hardware, but that’s only a necessary condition for success. A sufficient condition is that killer app that sets them apart, which I just don’t see, There is definitely a bubble in the launch service market now, and only a very few will survive.

    I see it differently. The killer app is not so much for survival, which can be done without the killer app, but it is for innovation. Right now, the killer apps in the launch industry are the ones that bring down the price for reaching orbit. SpaceX has three killer apps: reusability (reducing per-unit costs), simplicity (reducing operational costs), and availability (better service: launching often with the ability to add to its launch manifest fairly quickly, an app that the Space Force desires for the small launch market). For the launch industry (not industry in general), SpaceX has a fourth killer app: rapid development, which gives them lower development costs and allows them to get new products to market faster than the competition.

    Some other launch companies are working on some, most, or all of these killer apps, and they may be working on developing others, too.

    Is Firefly one of these companies? We will have to see what the new owners do.

  • Jeff Wright

    Reminds me of how VLJ/air-taxi advocate Vern Rayburn was ousted by his own company—Steve Jobs style.

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