Oct 24, 2019

Virgin Galactic set to become first publicly traded space tourism stock

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Virgin Galactic is set to hit the New York Stock Exchange on Monday after its merger with venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya's special purpose vehicle was approved by company shareholders, CNBC reports.

Why it matters: The approval means Virgin Galactic will become the first human spaceflight and space tourism company to be publicly traded on the stock market.

Background: Virgin Galactic's spacecraft can carry up to six passengers along with two pilots up to the edge of space. The flights go for about $250,000 per person, with 603 members of the public already on a waitlist to fly.

The company's merger with former Facebook senior executive Palihapitiya's company Social Capital Hedosophia was announced back in May.

  • Social Capital Hedosophia took a 49% stake in Virgin Galactic, giving the company a $1.5 billion valuation.
  • Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson retained a 51% controlling stake.

Go deeper: Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is going public

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New stock exchange files application with SEC

The Wall Street sign near the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: BRYAN R. SMITH / Stringer/Getty Images

Members Exchange (MEMX) filed paperwork to the Securities Exchange Commission to operate as a stock exchange, according to documents made public on Thursday. The stock exchange upstart says it will launch next year if approved by regulators.

Why it matters: MEMX is backed by a slew of Wall Street heavyweights and is hoping to take on NYSE parent company Intercontinental Exchange and the Nasdaq — which dominates the industry — by offering a cheaper platform. But other new stock exchanges haven’t been successful in taking significant market share away from the bigger players.

Help wanted on Earth for economy in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A space economy conjures visions of thousands of people living and working in orbit and beyond, but the jobs that will keep the space industry afloat in the coming years will be located on Earth.

The big picture: The space industry could be worth $805 billion by 2030, according to estimates from UBS.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

The sovereign state of Facebook

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook's scale and power have often made it seem more a kind of quasi-sovereign nation than a traditional company — and right now it's looking more like a failing state than a thriving one.

The big picture: Digital giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are making the kinds of decisions about speech, personal safety, political power and financial relationships that have belonged to governments in the past. But at heart they are profit-making corporations with only limited competence in these domains, so their choices frequently go awry.