By Matthew Field,
Published by The Telegraph, 18 December 2022
Lee Rosen quits Skyrora less than six months after he joined
A former SpaceX executive has quit British rocket start-up Skyrora less than six months after he joined.
Lee Rosen, who had joined Edinburgh-headquartered Skyrora as its chief operating officer, left the company in November, according to his LinkedIn profile.
A Skyrora spokesman said Mr Rosen had left for “personal reasons” and planned to return to California.
It is the latest blow to the space venture that is hoping to use a rocket base on the Shetland islands to fire small satellites into space.
The company’s first suborbital launch test of its Skylark L rocket from a pad in Iceland failed, with the rocket crashing into the Norwegian ocean about 500 metres from the coast. The company blamed the failure on a “software related anomaly”.
However, despite so far failing to get a successful launch into orbit, revenues at Skyrora Ventures, its parent company, soared 300pc last year.
According to the company’s annual report, revenues jumped from £3.8m to £15.2m. It reported a loss of £6.3m.
Skyrora Ventures said it had continued to develop its “non-space business, including online business advertising services”.
Its parent company owns a network of ad-tech and affiliate marketing companies, as well as dating apps and horoscope products, that provide funding for Skyrora’s parent company. Skyrora said it continued to receive funding support from investors and was in the process of raising additional grants from the European Space Agency.
Skyrora was founded by Ukranian entrepreneur Volodymyr Levykin, a former executive at now defunct dating empire Cupid PLC.
Its investors include Ukrainian internet entrepreneur Max Polyakov, according to a report by Snopes. Mr Polyakov is a shareholder at Hong Kong-based Digitroom Holdings, which owns a stake in Skyrora.
Mr Polyakov, who founded and listed Cupid in London, went on to launch Noosphere Ventures. He rescued US rocket company Firefly from bankruptcy, but earlier this year was forced to sell it by US authorities amid national security concerns.
Mr Polyakov posted on Facebook attacking the US decision in February. He said: “Dear agencies of USA who betrayed me and judge me in all your actions for past 15 months. I hope now you are happy.”
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