UPDATED 14:47 EDT / DECEMBER 11 2020

EMERGING TECH

Solid-state lidar maker Innoviz to go public in $1.4B SPAC merger

Innoviz Technologies Ltd., a maker of lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles that counts BMW AG among its customers, today announced plans to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Special purpose acquisition companies, most commonly referred to as SPACs or blank-check companies, are entities created for the sole purpose of merging with another firm and then taking that firm public.

Such deals have become a popular alternative to initial public offerings in recent quarters. Luminar Technologies Inc. and Velodyne Lidar Inc., two other lidar suppliers, are among the firms that have recently opted to take the SPAC route to public markets.

Innoviz is merging with a SPAC called Collective Growth in a transaction that is set to give it a valuation of about $1.4 billion. The lidar maker is poised to raise gross proceeds of up to $350 million from the transaction. The sum is set to include up to $150 million from Collective Growth, plus another $200 million from a consortium that includes Canadian auto parts giant Magna International Inc. and investment firm Antara Capital. 

Lidar sensors enable autonomous vehicles to see their surroundings by illuminating the environment with laser pulses and measuring the reflected light. Sensors in the category have traditionally relied on mechanical components to direct the laser light at areas of interest around a vehicle. Innoviz’s systems, in contrast, use a so-called solid state design that doesn’t have any moving mechanical parts.

The company claims it was the first in the industry to bring a solid-state lidar sensor to market. According to Innoviz, the fact that its sensors don’t include moving components makes them more durable, which in turn makes them more viable for use on mass-market vehicles from a cost and repairability standpoint.

The company recently introduced a new sensor model dubbed the InnovizTwo that can spot objects at distances ranging from a few inches to more than 800 feet. The system captures visual information at a rate of 15 frames per second. To make it easier for automakers and their suppliers to adopt its hardware, Innoviz also sells perception software that analyzes collected lidar data to perform tasks such as tracking other vehicles in a car’s vicinity.

Innoviz’s merger with Collective Growth is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021. From there, the company will list on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “INVZ.”

Photo of Innoviz’s founders: Innoviz

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