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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.

17 mins ago - Health

CDC updates guidance on airborne COVID-19

A patron eats lunch in March at Philippe The Original near downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The CDC acknowledged Friday that airborne spread of COVID-19 among people more than 6 feet apart "has been repeatedly documented."

Why it matters: This is "a change from the agency’s previous position that most infections were acquired through 'close contact, not airborne transmission,'" the N.Y. Times reports.

11 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.