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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.

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
57 mins ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.