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25-Year-Old Luminar Founder Set to Become Billionaire Through SPAC Deal

By John Bromels – Oct 19, 2020 at 6:34PM

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Once again, a tech entrepreneur will become a self-made billionaire.

You've heard of tech billionaires Musk and Zuckerberg. Well, now there's Russell -- 25-year-old Austin Russell, to be exact.

This enterprising young man dropped out of Stanford in 2013 to found Luminar, a tech start-up developing light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology for the self-driving vehicle industry.

Like many other automotive tech companies in recent months, Luminar is set to go public through a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) Gores Metropoulos (GMHI). That merger is expected to make Russell one of the world's youngest billionaires. 

A pair of hands holds money in front of a car's steering wheel.

Image source: Getty Images.

Big money

SPAC mergers have become almost commonplace in the automotive industry this year, with big names like electric truckmaker Nikola and electric drivetrain manufacturer Hyliion (HYLN 2.19%) both choosing a reverse merger over an IPO.

For its part, if Luminar goes public sometime in the fourth quarter as scheduled, it won't even be the first LIDAR company to do so this year. That honor just went to Velodyne Lidar

Luminar is currently valued at more than $3 billion. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Russell will own about a 35% stake in the Orlando-based company, worth about $1.1 billion at today's valuation. Luminar has gotten plenty of attention from investors due to its success in bringing down the cost of LIDAR systems and its partnership with Volkswagen

Although Russell may be the youngest automotive entrepreneur to join the billionaires' club this year, he's not the only wealthy twenty-something. Hyliion's Thomas Healy was only 28 when the company went public earlier this month, making him a billionaire as well. 

John Bromels has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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