Long Beach-Based Virgin Orbit Going Public via SPAC, Valued At $3.2 Billion

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Virgin Orbit, the four-year-old spinout of Richard Branson's space firm Virgin Galactic is merging with NextGen Acquisition Corp. 11 at the end of the year to become a publicly traded company under the NASDAQ ticker VORB.

The merger will provide the company with up to $483 million in new capital, Virgin Orbit predicts - $383 million from NextGen, and $100 million in PIPE that includes investors such as AE Industrial Partners and Boeing.

It's a win for Southern California's aerospace industry, which is home to both Virgin Orbit and Elon Musk's SpaceX along with the Space Force's new technology and acquisition arm. It also follows a string of space companies going public - launch firm Astra went public in June, and Long Beach-based Rocket Lab is slated to go public via SPAC this week.

Virgin Orbit put its money into the so-called "horizontal launch" method that launches rockets horizontally from the air at roughly 35,000 feet above sea level, rather than vertically from the ground, which, the company said, allows for more flexibility in when and where rockets are launched.

A Virgin Orbit Launcher One rocket launches via the company's so-called "horizontal launch" method.

The company most recently launched the Netherlands' first rocket into space using a modified Boeing 747 aircraft in June following a successful second launch test of its LauncherOne rocket and its first commercial mission to send supplies to NASA.

NextGen's co-founders, George Mattson and Greg Summe, are longtime investors in the aerospace industry, working closely with Delta Airlines, Virgin Galactic and divisions of Honeywell in various roles as executives. Summe said during an investor webcast the pair raised money "with the mission to find a high-growth technology company with a rapidly growing market, highly differentiating capability, and an outstanding leadership team."


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A New Invite-Only NFT Marketplace Is Coming out of Beta

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Image courtesy of Folio

For Joey Primiani, designing a new NFT marketplace is just the latest stop in what’s been a long and fascinating trip through the world of tech.

After stints at Google and Cortex and a gig developing Lady Gaga’s online fan community, Primiani, together with business partner Mirko Kiefer, unveiled his latest venture this week: Folio, a social network that offers artists a platform and tools to showcase their NFT creations.

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Introducing 'Moves': Our New Weekly Recap of Job Changes in LA Tech

Molly Wright
Molly Wright is an intern for dot.LA. She previously edited the London School of Economics’ student newspaper in the United Kingdom, interned for The Hollywood Reporter and was the blogging editor for UCLA’s Daily Bruin.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

This is the first installment of Moves—a weekly feature highlighting job and career changes around the Los Angeles and Southern California tech ecosystem.

Moves is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here. And if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing sharmineh@dot.LA.

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Shipment Tracking Startup Route Claims Unicorn Status After $200 Million Funding Round

Harri Weber

Do you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely via Signal: +1 917 434 4978.

Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to harrison@dot.la.

Ecommerce shipment tracking startup Route—which is based in the “Silicon Slopes” hotbed surrounding Salt Lake City but has a growing presence in Los Angeles—is now claiming unicorn status after raising $200 million in new funding at a $1.25 billion valuation.

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