CEO of Orbex, a UK small launch developer, is stepping down

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U.K.-based small launch developer Orbex is undergoing a change in leadership.

The company’s co-founder and (now former) CEO Chris Larmour said on LinkedIn that he will no longer be leading the startup as it races to its first launch sometime this year.

His LinkedIn post suggests that the departure was mutual: “I feel I have taken [Orbex] as far as I can personally, and it’s time now to step away and let others lead the company to the next level.” But there is no doubt that a major leader stepping away from a company at such a pivotal point in its development — in this case, just before the first test of its microlauncher, Prime — suggests a more uneasy exit.

The news is all the more puzzling because Orbex had a slew of positive news announcements last year. In October, the company closed $45.8 million in Series C funding led by new investor the Scottish National Investment Bank, a vote of confidence from the government. The following month, Orbex said it had signed a lease with a Scottish developer to construct a launch site near Sutherland, in the northern part of Scotland.

Kristian Von Bengtson, Orbex’s current Chief Development Officer, will act as interim CEO while the company looks for a new leader.

“The company is now transitioning into its commercial phase as we move toward the first launch of the Orbex Prime vehicle,” an Orbex spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Following a sustained period of fundraising and extensive research and development over the past few years, it is now time for someone new to take the helm and lead the company through this important stage.”

Orbex is one of the most well-funded rocket startups in Europe, having raised nearly £100 million ($124 million) since its founding in 2015. The company was only recently surpassed by German startup Isar Aerospace in March.

The story has been updated to include comments from Orbex. 

CEO of Orbex, a UK small launch developer, is stepping down by Aria Alamalhodaei originally published on TechCrunch

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