Luminar to merge with Gores Metropoulos to scale self-driving lidar, software

The price of sensors is one obstacle to wide adoption of autonomous vehicles. Luminar Technologies Inc. today announced a reverse merger with Gores Metropoulos Inc. and $170 million in investment to accelerate commercial development of its “full stack” of vehicle technology. Luminar said its lidar sensor and software will enable volume production of autonomous trucks and passenger vehicles.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Luminar was founded in 2012 and claimed it has built a new sensor from the chip level up that meets the performance, safety, and cost requirements of Level 3 to 5 autonomous vehicles. The company said it has more than 350 employees and has partnered with seven of the top 10 global automakers.

Gores Metropoulos is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by affiliates of The Gores Group LLC and Metropoulos & Co. Alec Gores and Dean Metropoulos have more than 65 years of combined experience as entrepreneurs, and their respective teams have invested in more than 180 portfolio companies. Upon completion of the merger, Luminar will continue to be listed on Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol “LAZR.”

Luminar lidar moving into production

Luminar said that its hardware and software will move into high-volume production in 2022, when it will be integrated into Volvo Cars’ global platform for its next generation of consumer vehicles. The company added that its technology will set new benchmarks for proactive vehicle safety, surpassing today’s advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS).

“This milestone is pivotal not just for us, but also for the larger automotive industry,” stated Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. “Eight years ago, we took on a problem to which most thought there would be no technically or commercially viable solution. We worked relentlessly to build the tech from the ground up to solve it and partnered directly with the leading global automakers to show the world what’s possible.”

“Today, we are making our next industry leap through our new long-term partnership with Gores Metropoulos, a team that has deep experience in technology and automotive and shares our vision of a safe autonomous future powered by Luminar,” he said.

“Luminar represents a rare opportunity to invest in the leading player in autonomous driving technology for cars and trucks,” said Alec Gores, CEO of Gores Metropoulos. “We are excited to partner with a visionary founder like Austin who has developed from scratch the only lidar technology that meets the most stringent OEM specification requirements for safety and performance.”

Transaction details

The combined company will have an implied pro forma enterprise value of approximately $2.9 billion and an equity value of approximately $3.4 billion at closing. The $170 million investment made directly into Luminar is led by institutional investors including Alec Gores, Van Tuyl Companies, Peter Thiel, Volvo Cars Tech Fund, Crescent Cove, Moore Strategic Ventures, Nick & Jill Woodman and VectoIQ, with the majority of the major existing investors participating.

Luminar previously raised $100 million in July 2019, continuing significant investments in self-driving car technologies.

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Advisors to Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Gores Metropoulos include Deutsche Bank Securities, Credit Suisse LLC, Moelis & Company LLC, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Advisors to Luminar include GCA Advisors LLC, Jefferies Group LLC, GCA Advisors LLC, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

The transaction, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Luminar and Gores Metropoulos, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals, as well as other customary closing conditions.

Luminar said it expects to keep its management team after the investment and merger are completed. The company also announced that it has added 16 former members of Samsung’s Munich-based DRVLINE platform team who previously worked on ADAS functionality. Luminar plans to use this software team to bring its full-stack of lidar-based ADAS and Level 4 highway autonomy offerings to market.

The companies said more information about the proposed transaction, including a copy of the merger agreement and investor presentation, will be provided in a Current Report on Form 8-K that will contain an investor presentation to be filed by Gores Metropoulos with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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