Austin Russell was born in 1995. He is the founder and CEO of Luminar Technologies, a startup with a focus on LIDAR technologies. The company IPO’d on December 3, 2020, with an 8.1 billion dollar market cap. He dropped out of college-aged 18 to build his tech company. The CEO says the defining moment in his success was dropping out of college.
He ended up at Stanford University studying physics but dropped out. He later received a Thiel Fellowship, created by tech icon and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. The fellowship provided tech talents with an alternative to the traditional education program.
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Elon Musk’s Tesla is not the only startup auto industry having a remarkable year. Luminar, which creates Lidar tech vital to many automakers’ autonomous driving efforts went public in December. The deal makes Luminar co-founder and CEO Austin Russell a billionaire at the age of 25.
Austin’s Tech Company
Russell, who founded the company as a 17-year-old high school student is ecstatic about the recent developments. The Luminar CEO said it also follows the plan his company has had in mind since its founding. Russell was a bit of a science prodigy.
His love for independent learning evolved into work on lasers and ultimately, lidar. Lidar uses lasers to detect and measure distance. It then creates a 3D map of the real-world environment that can be used in self-driving.
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On his Company’s objective
Austin revealed the company has a forward-looking book of auto business at $1.3 billion. It estimates its overall market opportunity within the multi-trillion auto market at “half a trillion”. Lidar and autonomous vehicles are the main targets for the auto industry. Luminar works with automakers including Volvo, which is owned by Chinese auto company Geely.
Austin Russell is not worried about his company’s competition, saying the rise of this breakthrough technology is closer to what chip maker Nvidia does than a tech hardware company. “We have one of the most insane moats of any company at this stage,” Russell said. “We’ve built out and pioneered core components, building from the ground up. We have not used commodity parts. We have the largest patent portfolio in sensing systems, more than the top five other lidar R&D efforts combined.
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