Lidar start-up Luminar progressed in the autonomous vehicle scene in April 2017 is soon merging with unique purpose acquisition company Gores Metropoulos Inc in a post-deal market valuation of whopping $3.4 billion.
Company Gores Metropoulos is a high purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, as sponsored by a The Gores Group affiliate. It is the global investment firm that was founded by Alec Gores in the late 1980s. The SPAC merger occurs just three months after start-up Luminar touched a high-end milestone and announced that Volvo would start producing good massive vehicles in 2022 and would have Luminar’s lidar and a perception stack. The Luminar technology will be used proactively to deploy an automated driving system for the highways.
Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell stated that they were looking forward to going public at some point and was waiting for the right opportunity. But the momentum from the Volvo deal and the interest in the public markets led the company to take the SPAC deal route. Luminar is the latest start-up and the second lidar production company to merge with SPACs this summer. In June, Velodyne Lidar pitched to merge with a particular purpose acquisition company Graf Industrial Corp. The deal was sealed at a market value of $1.8 billion.
Four other electric vehicle start-ups skipped the traditional IPO processes and opted to go public through a merger agreement with a SPAC. Luminar stated that it raised $170 million in private investments in public equity or PIPE. It collaborated with institutional investors like Alec Gores, Van Tuyl Companies, Peter Thiel, Volvo Cars Tech Fund, Crescent Cove, Moore Strategic Ventures, GoPro founder Nick Woodman and VectoIQ. A majority of the vital investors participated in the deal.
The transaction will also see a balance of about $400 million in cash held by Gores Metropoulos. Once the transaction closes down, Luminar will hold its name and be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LAZR. This deal would be closing around the fourth quarter of 2020. After that, Russell would still be the CEO and Tom Fennimore the CFO. Alec Gores will join the Luminar company board of directors upon closing the deal.
Russell founded Luminar in the year 2012. However, it has been operating in stealth mode for years until coming out of it in spring 2017. Luminar raised a whopping $250 million before the SPAC deal announcement. The company presently has 350 employees and has operations across Silicon Valley and a factory in Orlando. The company stated that it is looking to open up an office in Detroit too.
Lidar is a light detection and ranging radar that can measure distance with laser light and craft a high accurate 3D map of the world around the car. The sensor is essential for the commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles. Automakers also look forward to lidar as an efficient and crucial sensor that can be used to enhance the features of automobiles and the safety of its advanced driver assistance systems. Luminar recently announced that it pitched in 16 people who worked on Samsung’s now-dissolved DRIVELINE team. Luminar is also working with companies who want to commercialize robotaxis, though the CEO thinks it a longer-term goal.