GM’s Cruise CEO expects the lidar SPAC firms to consolidate
Dan Kan (from left to right), COO of Cruise Automation, Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, and Dan Ammann, President of General Motors, Tuesday, November 20, 2018, in the Cruise Automation offices in San Francisco, California.
Source: Noah Berger | General Motors
The co-founder and president of Cruise, General Motors’ majority-owned autonomous vehicle subsidiary, predicts a consolidation / collapse of the lidar industry, particularly with regard to companies that have gone public or are planning to do so through contracts with blank check companies.
In a series of tweets earlier this week, Kyle Vogt, who also serves as Cruise’s chief technology officer, said recent reviews of companies that have gone public with such companies are also known as Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACS) , are overrated.
“Something interesting is happening in the LIDAR industry. Over 5 companies will soon have or will have SPAC,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “Their value is based on * projected * revenue coming from * completely overlapping * potential customers, with very little discount on future projections. Is that bad?”
Vogt went on to discuss the SPAC model, saying that one of the companies – AEVA, Innoviz, Ouster, Velodyne Lidar, and Luminar Technologies in particular – may be able to meet such high ratings, but not all. The first three companies have announced SPAC deals, but have not yet gone public.
“Of course it is not unusual for startups to be evaluated on the basis of future sales forecasts, even in a highly competitive environment,” tweeted Vogt. “But I usually see private markets giving these future projections a much bigger discount than what we’re seeing with these SPACs.”
Cameras help autonomous vehicles to read street signs and the color of traffic lights. But lidars, or light detection and distance systems, do the important job of detecting cars and helping them avoid obstacles, whether it’s a fallen tree, a drunk driver, or a kid running into the street. Lidar also has applications in defense, robotics, aerospace and, more recently, in personal electronic devices like Apple’s iPhone.
Luminar went public last month through a SPAC deal with an enterprise value of $ 2.9 billion. The current market capitalization is $ 10.7 billion. It’s similar with Velodyne, which went public in September with a value of $ 1.8 billion, despite a net loss of $ 67.2 million on sales of $ 101.4 million in 2019 was recorded. The market capitalization is $ 4 billion.
“Robotaxis will have a tremendous positive impact on society, so it’s important to see progress here,” tweeted Vogt, saying he respected all companies. “But we’ve seen a consolidation / collapse of the Robotaxi space (save for a handful of players) in the past 24 months, and LIDAR is next. That probably means lower market caps for most of these Co’s, which is a shame for everyone involved but may the best product win! “
Outside of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has criticized lidar, many consider the technology essential for self-driving vehicles. Lidar uses laser beams to create a 3D environment of its environment for on-board computer systems.
Cruise acquired a lidar start-up called Strobe in 2017. The company continues to build its own self-driving sensor technology in-house and “watch what’s coming off the market,” said a Cruise spokesman.
“When we start commercializing, our decision will be based solely on ensuring that our customers and communities are safe and that we are bringing the price of technology down to the point where it is available to all,” he said in an email Mail sent statement.