- P.J. King - Successful Businessmen or Fraudster?
P.J. King – Successful Businessmen or Fraudster?
Michael Blum and P.J. King have gained the dubious and scandalous reputation of the strings pullers in the criminal world. However, is this image truthful? Can we trust to modern mass media? Today, it’s quite easy to form a positive or negative image. But will this image be correct? Let’s try to clear it up – who are Mr. Blum and Mr. King?
Michael Alexander Blum, the owner of VIP hotels and casinos in Asia, was born in Hong Kong in a family of Germans. From 2002 to 2005, he worked as a Senior Manager in the German branch of PayPal. In the same year, he founded Falcon Henge Partners, the hedge fund management company that was sold in 2006 by him. Blum has its own financial media Hedgeye Risk Management. As the owner of a company that organizes yacht cruises in Thailand Blum met his future wife Tatyana, who came from Khabarovsk to study in Chinese Macau in 2008.
In 2013, Blum was a co-founder of a venture fund and management company involved in casino and hotel business in Southeast Asia. His main focus was on the gambling business. Probably, this provoked the rumors that Blum is engaged in criminal frauds.
Around the same time, Blum became interested in the space industry. He has got acquainted with Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Corporation. Very soon, he has become a part of Branson’s team that was working on private space and suborbital flights. Blum managed to create several space programs, was a lecturer on space tourism and even produced a film about space. At the same time, he has got acquainted with Mr. King.
King was born in Ireland in an ordinary family of the shepherd. He studied astronautics and space engineering but he aimed to create his own business. King‘s startup Clockworks International has gained success and such famous enterprises as Apple, IBM, Disney were his clients. Later the company was sold and some board members were imprisoned for financial fraud.
After that, King was involved in the investment projects but the results were deplorable for the companies which he was cooperating with. He was the head of the investment fund P.J. King Investments Ltd up to 2015.
From 2001 to 2008 King was involved in a scandal connected with CNG Travel, an electronic hotel reservation service. King owns part of the shares of this company and, apparently, continues to work in the tourism business.
Who Are You, Mr. M. Blum and Mr. King?
The King’s events connected with CNG Travel were happening approximately the same time when Blum was involved in the gambling and hotel business in Macau. This has triggered the first gossips that Blum and King are involved in criminal affairs – they say that they have organized the delivery of drugs and illegal entertainment from Asia to rich people from America. But officially these rumors were not confirmed.
Another gossip has occurred when Blum and King were both involved in cryptocurrencies and blockchain business. They were called the lords of “deep web”. Blum was also accused of porno film creation. They say, he was shooting them in Asia and Russia and was selling them in DarkNet. King is said to create a virtual map of US crack dens in the Darknet. These rumors were not also confirmed.
Misfortunes of Mr. Blum and Mr. King
In 2013, Blum’s luck has run out and he had a lot of lawsuits. In 2013, the Securities Commission (SEC) accused Blum’s Investment Fund Magnetar Capital of cheating on their partners ‘ securities and obliged them to repay $132 million of compensation. In early 2015, another of his firms was accused of unfair competition and there were multimillion-dollar lawsuits against it. Former friend and collaborator Richard Branson turned into a sworn enemy when he accused M. Blum and P.J. King of commercial espionage and the technology of his space project theft. All these lawsuits damaged Blum’s and King’s reputation. Blum has repeatedly stated that many of the trials were deliberately fabricated.
So, what has happened? In 2016 Virgin Galactic filed suit against Firefly Systems in Los Angeles Superior Court. Mr. Blum and Mr. King as the officers of Firefly Systems were accused of trade secrets disclosure and unfair competition.
The lawsuit was related to arbitration between Virgin Galactic and Thomas Markusic, the former vice president of the company. Virgin Galactic suggests that Markusic took trade secrets and confidential information after he left his position in 2013 to establish Firefly together with Mr. Blum and Mr. King.
Virgin Galactic insists that Blum and King have used the information that Markusic provided to them to start the Firefly project. All information was confidential and belonged to Virgin Galactic. Markusic has denied all the claims.
At the end of September, Firefly had the problems with investing that’s why it had to dismiss the members of the company’s staff.
Firefly was engaged in the development of Firefly Alpha, a small satellite launcher. Thus, it could become a real competitor for Virgin Galactic which is engaged in the LauncherOne booster development.
The Alpha launch vehicle was developed to put up to 1 thousand kilograms of payload into low earth orbit and 630 kg of payload per solar synchronous orbit (SSO). The sun-synchronous orbit is widely regarded as a critical direction for small observatories designed for Earth observation and is currently underserved by special launches.
According to the potential customers’ opinion, Alpha’s capacity of one metric ton is the golden mean among all launch vehicles of this class. Alpha has enough payload capacity to deploy multiple satellites weighing 125 kg, so those small satellite groupings could be easily deployed.
Mr. Blum and Mr. King – passion for space
As it was mentioned before, Blum has always been interested in space except for business. Working at PayPal, he made money by selling shares and used them to buy a ticket to SpaceShipTwo from Virgin for $200 thousand. In the summer of 2008, Blum and representatives of Virgin Galactic spent a month on the personal island of magnate Richard Branson, where they discussed future plans for a suborbital WhiteKnightTwo flight. During this period, Blum actively gives lectures on space topics in China, Singapore, and the United States. In August 2009, Blum uploaded a video of the contract signing ceremony with Richard Branson and Mohamed Al-Husseiny on his Youtube channel where he acquires 32% of shares in Virgin Galactic for $380m.
The German businessman had enough money but he wanted to conquer the American market, the new trend of which was New Space. Since 2010, many people wanted to replicate the success of Elon Musk and started creating their own space projects.
With great enthusiasm, Blum and his Irish business partner and P.J. King started conquering the niche of space startups in 2014 and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the space industry.
Like Blum, his business partner started his way in space business from purchasing a ticket for the suborbital flight on the VSS Enterprise / SpaceShipTwo spacecraft in 2004. But after an unsuccessful test launch of SpaceShipTwo in 2014, King demanded his money back. Despite this situation, King continued to cooperate with Branson and Blum in the sphere of the space industry.
Final Word About Mr. Blum and Mr. King
National rumor connects Blum and King with a certain criminal grouping dealing with sex business and providing illegal entertainment to VIP clients from the USA. Mr. King is said to involve M. Blum into the world of crime. However, these gossips have no confirmation. People believe that rich people always have problems with the law.
If you study their biographies more thoroughly, it becomes obvious enough that they can hardly be called criminals. They both had ambiguous moments in their careers but as the practice shows, all people involved in the investment business have them.
Obviously that King and Blum are financial manipulators but they can hardly be called sleazy fraudsters. They are quite rich and clever not to get involved in the beastly business. They are really succeeded in money-making and it seems that they can turn everything into gold. They have a strong reputation in US business circles that’s why it’s not difficult for them to attract investments and launder money on their investment projects.
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