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Luminar’s Young Founder to Have Full Control When Firm Goes Public

(Bloomberg) — Austin Russell dropped out of Stanford University in 2012 to focus on his driverless-car startup, Luminar Technologies Inc.

Eight years later, Russell, 25, is taking Luminar public in a $3.4 billion deal that will see him retain full control over the company and make him among the youngest chief executives of a publicly traded firm.

Russell is expected to hold about 83% of the voting power at Luminar after its combination with special purpose acquisition company Gores Metropoulos Inc. is completed, according to a registration statement filed Monday. That will give him control over the election of board members and all other major decisions submitted to stockholders for approval.

His exact equity stake in the company hasn’t yet been disclosed. Russell will be the sole owner of Luminar’s Class B shares, which hold 10 times the voting power of the standard Class A shares, according to the filing.

A spokesperson for Orlando, Florida-based Luminar didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Luminar is backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who awarded Russell a $100,000 fellowship that allowed him to quit Stanford at age 17. The company makes light detection and ranging sensors, or lidar, that bounce lasers off objects to guide vehicles. The sensors are expensive, and Luminar has emerged from a crowded startup field in part by bringing down the cost.

Read More: Thiel-backed Luminar to go public in $3.4 billion merger

Luminar is also backed by GoPro Inc. founder Nick Woodman and a unit of Volvo Car AB. The company will raise more than $500 million as part of the deal, helping accelerate its efforts to get its laser sensors onto the production lines of global automakers, Russell told Bloomberg in August.

Volvo says it will use Luminar’s technology to enable hands-free highway driving in cars starting in 2022.

Luminar will be traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker LAZR after its combination with Gores Metropoulos is completed, expected in the fourth quarter.

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