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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Luminar Technologies, a Palo Alto-based developer of auto lidar sensors, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with Gores Metropoulos, a SPAC sponsored by private equity firm the Gores Group.

Why it matters: SPACs and futuristic auto tech have become the peanut butter and jelly of the capital markets, able to exist independently but more often found together.

  • The company will have an initial market cap of around $3.4 billion.
  • The deal includes $400 million in cash from Gores Metropoulos, and $170 million from an investor group that includes Peter Thiel, Volvo, Alec Gores, Nick Woodman, Crescent Cove, Moore Strategic Ventures, and VectoIQ.
  • Luminar, founded in 2012 by Thiel Fellow Austin Russell, had raised $250 million, most recently last summer at a $900 million valuation, from backers like Canvas Ventures, GVA Capital and 1517 Fund, Corning, Peter Thiel, and Volvo.

The bottom line: Luminar has sprinted ahead of other laser-based detection systems by focusing on long-range, highway driving.

  • Its lidar tech is now ready for prime time, with Volvo Cars announcing in June it will add the system to its next generation of vehicles starting in 2022, helping first with assisted-driving tasks, then enabling full autonomy in the future.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Sep 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

What the 2020 SPAC boom means for 2021

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The blank-check boom of 2020 is sapping the 2021 IPO market of prospective issuers.

Driving the news: SPAC godfather Alec Gores this morning announced the market's largest-ever deal, with Gores Holdings IV (Nasdaq: GHIV) agreeing to buy wholesale mortgage lender UWM at an enterprise value of approximately $16.1 billon.

59 mins ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.