Lidar startup innoviz to go public in $1.4 Billion SPAC deal

Innoviz Technologies, an Israeli lidar startup backed by two of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, is going public in a $1.4 billion reverse merger with Collective Growth.

The SPAC provided $150 million in cash and raised $200 million from investors in the deal that gives the combined company a $1.4 billion equity value. They expect the transaction to close in the first quarter of next year.

Merging with a SPAC — shorthand for special purpose acquisition company — has become an increasingly popular method for closely held businesses to raise capital for growth. Innoviz is the fourth lidar-focused firm to go public through a blank-check company this year.

Lidar, laser-based sensors that allow a vehicle to “see” its surroundings, are among the most expensive components of autonomous cars and are key to enabling more advanced self-driving features. With the promise of fully autonomous robotaxis still years away, lidar companies are targeting more-limited features in passenger cars and products including industrial robots and consumer devices.

The industry will take more time, and now that we have this funding, this gives us the reassurance that we can complete what we started,” Innoviz Chief Executive Officer Omer Keilaf said by phone.

The company counts global auto suppliers Magna International. and Aptiv Plc as investors and will provide lidar for BMW AG’s iX sport-utility vehicle due in 2021. BMW will gradually introduce so-called Level 3 autonomy in the SUV, meaning drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road in limited circumstances. Keilaf declined to comment on any other supplier agreements.

Luminar Technologies another lidar company, recently went public through a merger with Gores Metropoulos, turning its 25-year-old founder into one of the world’s youngest billionaires. Velodyne Lidar went public via reverse merger with Graf Industrial. this summer, and Aeva last month agreed to merge with InterPrivate Acquisition.

Collective Growth, the Austin, Texas-based special purpose acquisition company merging with Innoviz, is led by Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton, who is known for co-founding Canopy Growth, a cannabis producer. Collective Growth raised $150 million in April and said at the time it would focus on target businesses in any industry or geography.