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Ajit Pai to step down as FCC chair Jan. 20

Pai's five-year term wasn't set to end until July 2021.

Ajit Pai

Pai will depart the FCC on Jan. 20.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The chairman announced his decision to leave his post before the end of his term in a statement, saying it has "been the honor of a lifetime" to serve in that role. "To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege," Pai wrote. "As I often say: only in America."

In his statement, Pai listed what he believes are some of the agency's signature accomplishments during his tenure, including "closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety."

Pai has been a controversial figure in tech circles for his decision to roll back net neutrality protections and his crackdown on subsidies to get low-income people connected to the internet. His departure comes at a time when students across the country are being left out of remote learning due to a lack of devices or internet connection or both.

While it's not unusual for agency heads to step down after a new president assumes office, Pai's five-year term wasn't set to end until July 2021.

Read more about the likely candidates to take his place under President-elect Biden's administration.


Galileo has a 'gaping hole' in its strategy. Can PayPal’s Archie Puri fill it?

The fintech veteran is tasked with working out what's next for Galileo as its first chief product officer.

Galileo Chief Product Officer Archie Puri is known for helping build payment platforms.

Photo: Galileo

Asked when he first heard of Archie Puri, Galileo founder and CEO Clay Wilkes can't quite remember. "Boy, that's a good question," he said. "It's like asking me when did I hear first about McDonald's."

In the fintech world, Puri is a household name. She's a respected veteran technologist who helped build the pioneering payment platforms at trailblazing companies such as Braintree and PayPal.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

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