Friday, October 9, 2020

LIDAR: Peter Thiel-Backed Luminar Nears $3.4 Billion Deal to Go Public

 LIDAR seems to have fallen off the enthusiasm radar these days, so to speak, what with autonomous vehicles joining fusion energy as "Just ten years away". Here's one of the players. From Silicon Valley Business Journal, October 6:

Luminar says its Wall Street debut will outperform Velodyne’s. Here’s why

In the wake of Velodyne Lidar Inc.'s dramatic drop last week in its Wall Street debut, leaders of rival Luminar Technologies Inc. told potential investors on Tuesday that the companies shouldn't be lumped together.

"The public markets are in the early stages of understanding lidar and the opportunity for autonomous vehicles in general," said Tom Fennimore, who joined the Palo Alto startup as chief financial officer in July after being a chief automotive investment banker at Jefferies Group LLC and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

"Velodyne is a really good company but at the end of the day they are focused on a very different segment of the lidar market than we are," he said.

Like San Jose-based Velodyne (NASDAQ:VLDR), Luminar is going public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) — Beverly Hills-based Gores Metropoulos (NASDAQ:GMHI) — and plans to take over its stock listing.

But even after factoring in last week's 32% drop, Velodyne's stock price is trading at about 50% above where its merger partner — Graf Industrial Corp. — was when their deal was announced in June. Share's of Luminar's SPAC partner soared by about 28% after they announced their deal in August but have given all of that up since.

Both Velodyne and Luminar have important automotive backers, with Ford and Volvo respectively.

Velodyne, however, has shifted much of its focus away from providing sensors for fully autonomous vehicles and moved on to providing eyes for driver-assist safety features, drones, robots and other applications. It figures that about half of its revenue in the immediate future will come from non-automotive uses....


February 2020
"Players in Autonomous-Driving Race May Bet on 'Lidar as a Service'"
September 1, 2020
In Addition To Palantir, Two More Peter Thiel-Backed Companies Are Going Public
April 2018
Autonomous Vehicles: "Velodyne invented modern lidar—it’s about to face real competition"

And For a quick primer on this stuff we have on offer:
Izabella Kaminska In Conversation With the Financial Times' Auto Industry Correspondent, Peter Campbell, on the Prospects for Autonomous Vehicles