Chamath Palihapitiya steps down as Virgin Galactic Chairman

Chamath Palihapitiya stepped down as chairman of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. to focus on other ventures, leaving the board as the space-tourism company moves from startup phase toward paying flights.

Board member and chief investment officer Evan Lovell was appointed interim chairman as the company begins a search for a successor, according to a statement Friday.

Palihapitiya, known as the SPAC King for his use of the investment tool to bring companies public, will focus on other public-company commitments.

The board shakeup comes at a point of transition for Virgin Galactic, one of a handful of firms pioneering near-space travel. Founder Richard Branson flew on a test flight last year, and the shares jumped earlier this week after the company started ticket sales.

Shares of Virgin Galactic advanced 1.6 percent to $9.15 in early New York trading. They have lost a third of their value this year amid a market shift away from higher-risk investments.

Palihapitiya joined Virgin Galactic’s board as its first chairman when the company went public in 2019.

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