Lidar startup goes public, makes founder a billionaire

Luminar CEO Austin Russell

Enlarge / Luminar CEO Austin Russell. (credit: Luminar)

Luminar founder Austin Russell has become one of the youngest self-made billionaires after his lidar company debuted on public markets on Thursday. Russell, 25, was just 17 when he founded Luminar in 2012. Shares of Luminar rose above $30 a share on Friday, a massive 43 percent gain for the day on top of big gains on Thursday.

Luminar has emerged as one of the leading companies in the fast-growing lidar industry.  Carmakers are expected to begin offering lidar as an advanced option for their vehicles in the next few years to enable better driver-assistance technology. Right now, lidar companies are vying to win contracts to supply these sensors.

Luminar had a major win in May when it signed a deal with Volvo to supply lidar sensors for vehicles starting in 2022. It was one of the first such deals in the industry.

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