Austin Russell: 8 things you should know about the World’s Newest and Youngest Self-Made Billionaire
Austin Russell became a billionaire on Thursday after his publicly traded company, Luminar’s Nasdaq trading closed with an impressive jump. The company produces sensor technology for self-driving cars.
As self-driving cars are gradually becoming a reality, tech companies are racing to be the first to launch breakthrough or superior models, and billionaires are backing the most promising and brightest entrepreneurs in order to have a sizable slice of the pie.
Russell had heavyweight financial backers for his laser sensor company but it took years of hard work and disappointments to get to his current status, as the autonomous vehicle industry has only attracted many billionaires but hardly created one. Russell is one of the few exceptions.
In a conversation with Forbes, he recalled that the effort to building the company has been “insanely intense” and “grueling”. He added, “a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into it.”
Here are 7 things about the newest billionaire you should know.
1. Russell was 17 years when he founded his company, Luminar. He’s now 25 years old.
2. When he was 13, he filed his first patent: an underground water recycling system that catches sprinkler water and saves it for future gardening to reduce wastewater.
3. He dropped out of Stanford University to build up his company after benefiting from a $100,000 fellowship fund. The fellowship offering was created in 2013 by Peter Thiel, Paypal co-founder, to encourage extraordinary young people to drop out of school and pursue their dreams.
4. Russell’s company produces laser LiDAR sensors that help self-driving cars see and understand the world around them. He says Luminar’s sensors can see 10 times farther and with 50 times higher resolution compared to other LiDAR systems.
5. Luminar’s Nasdaq trading on Thursday made Russell a billionaire. He retained 104.7 million shares, about a third of the company’s equity. The shares were worth $2.4 billion at the close of trading.
6. Before Luminar’s stock exchange listing, it struck a merger deal in August with Gores Metropoulos, a unit of Beverly Hills-based finance firm, The Gores Group, and raised the company’s estimated market value to $3.4 billion.
7. Russell’s company has secured production orders of its products from giant automakers like Volvo Cars, Daimler, Intel’s Mobileye. and looking to land more deals.
8. According to an SEC filing, Luminar is projected to post sales of just $15 million this year and estimated to generate at least $1.3 billion by 2026.
Protesters Storm Abuja, Demands Interim Government, Fresh Polls
The just concluded elections had protesters kicking against the inauguration of the Presid…