The Luminar Technologies IPO had investors waiting in anticipation. The company operated in stealth until 2017, when it revealed its product. It provides advanced technology for autonomous driving vehicles. And investors want to invest in the future.

But is Luminar Technologies stock a good investment opportunity? Here’s what we know…

Luminar Technologies IPO: the Business

The Luminar Technologies IPO gives investors the chance to invest in lidar technology.

CEO Austin Russell founded Luminar Technologies in 2012. Russell was a Thiel fellow, meaning he received $100,000 over a two-year period to drop out of Stanford University and pursue his idea. Luminar is a global leader in lidar autonomous driving technology. Lidar is the use of lasers to measure distance and is a key component in almost all autonomous driving projects.

Luminar Technologies’ website states…

Luminar’s vision is to make autonomous transportation safe and ubiquitous. As a global leader in lidar autonomous driving technology, we are enabling the world’s first autonomous solutions for automotive series production in passenger cars and commercial trucks.

The Luminar Technologies IPO brings another company that’s promising it’s a part of the future of the auto industry. And like many others investors saw this year, the company chose to offer Luminar Technologies stock through a SPAC IPO.

SPAC Brings Luminar Technologies Stock

SPAC IPOs are the new trend for 2020. They’re a faster and usually cheaper method of going public than the traditional IPO process. A SPAC is a special purpose acquisition company. It’s a company with no operating business and raises capital in a public offering. Then the SPAC uses the funds to acquire a company, resulting in a new public company. To learn more about SPAC IPOs, feel free to check out that link. And in this case, Gores Metropoulos is the SPAC and Luminar Technologies is the acquired company.

Gores Metropoulos is an affiliate of the Gores Group. Alec Gores founded the global investment firm in 1987. Gores Metropoulos is its fourth SPAC since 2016. It raised $375 million in its January 2019 IPO by offering 37.5 million shares at a $10 offer price.

In Luminar Technologies’ press release, Gores stated…

Luminar represents a rare opportunity to invest in the leading player in autonomous driving technology for cars and trucks. 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. Luminar is well-positioned to dominate the autonomous landscape, and, together, we look forward to shaping the future of automotive transportation.

Russell also commented on the transaction, saying…

This milestone is pivotal not just for us, but also for the larger automotive industry. 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 out 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.

Many investors are excited about the Luminar Technologies IPO because it lets them invest in the latest auto technology. But if you’re interested in buying Luminar Technologies stock, here’s a better look at its technology.

Lidar Technology and Software

Lidar technology uses the difference in laser return times to create 3D representations of its surroundings. It’s used by all large autonomous driving projects so far except for Tesla. And Luminar Technologies claims its sensor is the only one to meet requirements for Level 3 to Level 5 autonomous vehicles.

If you’re unfamiliar with the levels of autonomous vehicles…

  • L0: Active safety requiring both visual awareness and steering
  • L1/2: Driver assisted requiring visual awareness but not steering assistance
  • L3/4: Highway autonomy requiring no assistance
  • L4/5: Urban/Full autonomy requiring no assistance.

This advancement is helped by the fact Luminar Technologies hired 16 former Samsung employees. They were part of the Munich-based DRVLINE platform team trying to deliver advanced driver-assistance systems to its mobility customers.

According to Luminar’s investor presentation, Luminar’s technology can detect dark objects up to 250 meters (820 feet). This allows for seven seconds of reaction time at a speed of 65 miles per hour. Other lidar technologies have a range of 45 meters (148 feet), giving only one second of reaction time.

The software is purpose-built with a turn-key solution, allowing delivery at commercial series production scale. Updates are provided over the air, meaning they’re sent over wireless connections. And Luminar claims its technology could decrease accident rates by seven times, particularly ones involving pedestrians. This could possibly lead to cutting costs of insurance.

Volvo Partners With Luminar

As a result of Luminar’s advancement in lidar technology, the company announced a new partnership with Volvo. In 2022, Volvo will use Luminar’s sensor for its first fully self-driving technology for highways in next-generation production vehicles. Luminar Technologies says that partnerships such as this can de-risk industrialization, enable economies of scale and help accelerate widespread adoption.

Since Luminar isn’t doing a traditional IPO, the company won’t be getting funds from the sale of Luminar Technologies stock. Instead, it will receive money from Gores Metropoulos to accelerate its plans. But when is the Luminar Technologies IPO date?

Luminar Technologies IPO Details

On December 3, 2020, shareholders approved the deal. As a result, Luminar Technologies stock started trading. Shares opened at $23.65 and gave the company a valuation of about $7 billion. Gores Metropoulos will give $400 million cash from its IPO. Luminar will also get $170 million from institutional investors such as Peter Thiel, Alec Gores, Volvo Cars Tech Fund and VectoIQ, which merged with Nikola in June.

The newly combined company kept Luminar Technologies’ name. It trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LAZR.

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The Luminar Technologies IPO appears to have been successful. With lidar possibly being the path to the future, Luminar Technologies stock could be a great investment opportunity.