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.

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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
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