Billion-Dollar Babies #7: 8 Unicorn Startups in The LiDAR Sensor Industry


According to LiDAR Sensor Market, Forecast, Trend, Analysis & Competition Tracking — Global Market Insights 2021 to 2031, a report published by market research company Fact.MR in May 2021, the global LiDAR sensor market size is expected to expand at an impressive CAGR of 12.5% over the forecast period of 2021 to 2031, especially with these sensors becoming more compact and cheaper.

Although speculative, this is great news for the deep tech sector, as LiDAR technology is set to bring a revolution to geology, mapping, oceanography, and the automotive industry.

With that said, let’s begin this week’s unicorn offering of eight unicorn startups in the LiDAR Sensor industry whose valuation exceeds a billion dollars.

1. Velodyne Lidar (Estimated valuation: ~$4B)

Velodyne Lidar is a Silicon Valley-based lidar technology company, headquartered in San Jose, California which spun off from Velodyne Acoustics. It was founded way back in 1983 by David Hall as an audio company specializing in subwoofer technology.

Today, the company ships sensors to mobility industry customers for testing and commercial use in autonomous vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems, mapping, robotics, infrastructure, and smart city applications.

Velodyne Lidar has received a total of $375.2 million in funding over five rounds. The company’s latest funding, a $150-million Post-IPO Equity round, was raised in September 2020.

In July of 2020, Velodyne Lidar combined with Graf Industrial Corp. to become a publicly traded company and by September 2020, it had begun trading stocks and warrants.

According to Crunchbase data, Velodyne Lidar’s valuation at IPO is said to be in the region of $4 billion.

2. AEye (Estimated valuation: $2B)

AEye is the provider of intelligent, next-generation, adaptive LiDAR for vehicle autonomy, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and robotic vision applications. AEye’s iDAR™ (Intelligent Detection and Ranging) system leverages biomimicry and principles from automated targeting applications used by the military to scan the environment, intelligently focusing on what matters most, enabling faster, more accurate, and more reliable perception. iDAR™ is the only software configurable LiDAR with integrated deterministic artificial intelligence, delivering industry-leading performance in range, resolution, and speed. The company was founded in 2013 by Barry Behnken, Jordan Greene, Luis Dussan, Ransom Wuller and is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Since its founding, AEye has raised a total of $89.1 million in funding over seven rounds. Its latest funding was in November 2020 from a Debt Financing round, valued at $29.8 million.

In February of this year, AEye agreed to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) CF Finance Acquisition Corp III (CFAC.O), in a deal that valued the company at $2 billion, according to Reuters.

3. Innoviz Technologies (Estimated valuation: $1.4B)

Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, Innoviz Technologies manufactures LiDAR sensors and perception software that enables the mass-production of autonomous vehicles. It was founded in 2016 by Amit Steinberg, Omer David Keilaf, Oren Buskila, Oren Rosenzweig, and Zohar Zisapel.

Innoviz’s offerings include the InnovizOne, an automotive-grade, mass-production LiDAR sensor; the InnovizTwo, a next-generation high-performance automotive-grade LiDAR sensor; and Innoviz’s perception software, designed to complement its hardware offerings with advanced AI and machine learning-based classification, detection and tracking features.

Backed by top-tier strategic partners and investors, including SoftBank Ventures Asia, Samsung, Magna International, Aptiv, Magma Venture Partners, Vertex Ventures, 360 Capital Partners, Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services, Phoenix Insurance Company and others, Innoviz announced this April that it completed its merger with Texas-based special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Collective Growth Corporation and will begin trading at a valuation of $1.4 billion.

Innoviz Technologies has raised a total of $482 million in funding over six rounds. The startup’s latest funding, a $230-million Post-IPO Equity round led by Antara Capital Master Fund and Magna International, was raised on April 2021.

4. Luminar Technologies (Estimated valuation: ~$2.9B)

Luminar Technologies is an autonomous vehicle sensor and software company with the vision to make autonomy safe and ubiquitous by delivering the only lidar and associated software that meets the industry’s stringent performance, safety, and economic requirements.

Having quickly gained over fifty industry partners, including 8 of the top 10 global automotive OEMs, in 2020 Luminar signed the industry’s first production deal for autonomous consumer vehicles with Volvo Cars, while also recently striking deals with Daimler Truck AG and Intel’s Mobileye. Luminar has also received minority investments from the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, Daimler Truck AG, and Volvo Cars, a global leader in automotive safety, to accelerate the introduction of autonomous trucks and cars at highway speed.

Founded in Orlando, Florida in 2012 by Austin Russell and Jason Eichenholz, Luminar has offices in Palo Alto, Orlando, Colorado Springs, Detroit, and Munich.

According to Reuters, in August 2020 Luminar intended to go public via a special-purpose company with a $2.9 billion valuation. On December 3rd of that year, Luminar stock opened with $30.00 on its IPO debut.

Luminar has raised a total of $995.5 million in funding over nine rounds. Its latest funding was raised on February 2021 from a Post-IPO Equity round valued at $154 million.

5. Aeva (Estimated valuation: ~$3B)

Founded in 2017 by former Apple engineers Soroush Salehian and Mina Rezk, and led by a multidisciplinary team of engineers and operators experienced in the field of sensing and perception, Aeva’s mission is to bring the next wave of perception technology to broad applications from automated driving to consumer electronics, consumer health, industrial robotics, and security.

Aeva’s latest funding, in March 2021, was a Post-IPO Equity round that raised $320 million for the Mountain View, California-based startup, bringing the total raised to some $368.5 million in funding over four rounds.

According to a Bloomberg interview with CEO Soroush Salehian, Aeva — a company that’s yet to turn a profit — is valued at about $3 billion.

6. OrCam Technologies (Estimated valuation: ~$3B)

OrCam, an Israeli company founded in 2010 by Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua, manufactures devices such as OrCam MyEye, a portable, artificial vision device that allows visually impaired people to understand text and identify objects through audio feedback, describing what they are unable to see.

OrCam Technologies has raised a total of $86.4 million in funding over four rounds. Its latest funding was raised in 2018 from a Venture — Series Unknown round, led by Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings.

In December 2020, it was announced that OrCam Technologies was set on a $3 billion valuation from a 2021 IPO.

7. Ouster (Estimated valuation: ~$2B)

Ouster is an American LiDAR technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California. Founded by Angus Pacala and Mark Frichtl in 2015, it builds high-resolution 3D lidar sensors for use in autonomous vehicles, robotics, drones, mapping, defence, and security systems.

Ouster has raised a total of $232 million in funding over six rounds. Its latest, a $100-million Post-IPO Equity round, was raised in March of this year.

2021 also saw Ouster completing a merger with Colonnade Acquisition, a special-purpose acquisition company and became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

According to Forbes, Ouster has a valuation of somewhere in the region of $2 billion.

8. Quanergy Systems (Estimated valuation: ~$1.4B)

Quanergy Systems is a privately-held Silicon Valley-based technology company providing LiDAR sensors and smart perception solutions founded in 2012 by Louay Eldada, Angus Pacala (also co-founder of lidar company Ouster) and Tianyue Yu.

It provides LiDAR sensors and perception software for real-time capture and processing of 3D spatial data and object detection, tracking, identification and classification.

This June, the company agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition fund CITIC Capital Acquisition Corp., a Chinese blank-check firm affiliated with the country’s largest state-owned investment conglomerate.

The deal puts Quanergy Systems’ valuation at a ballpark estimate of $1.4 billion.

This is after Quanergy Systems raised a total of $135.3 million in funding over six rounds. Its latest funding was raised in October 2018 from a Series C round.

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