Velodyne Lidar goes public in a reverse takeover

Velodyne Lidar goes public in a reverse takeover

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Lidar system maker Velodyne in California has raised $150m in a reverse takeover.

The company has combined with a subsidiary of Graf Industrial, giving the venture a valuation of $1.8bn as it expects to be profitable in 2022.

The proceeds from the combination will primarily remain on the balance sheet to enhance financial flexibility, support growth and fund selective acquisition opportunities. These could include sensor fusion softeware and optical technology startups.  

Founder David Hall will continue as executive chairman of Velodyne. Chief Executive Officer Dr. Anand Gopalan and Chief Financial Officer Drew Hamer will lead and manage the business along with Hall.

Current Velodyne shareholders, including David Hall and strategic investors Ford, Baidu, and Hyundai Mobis, will retain 83 percent of the shares in the combined company.

 The company began developing the lidar technology in 2005 as part of Velodyne Acoustics, founded by Hall in 1983. In 2015, Velodyne became independent from Velodyne Acoustics and focused on the development of lidar technology. Last year, Velodyne Acoustics was bought by Audio Reference in Germany.

Velodyne has over 300 customers with a focus on driver assistance systems and driverless cars, including nearly all of the leading global automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). It says it has booked over $500m in revenues since it started and expects to ship $800m of lidar sensors and software to 2024. It expects to generate revenues of approximately $100 million in 2020, increasing to approximately $680 million in 2024.

It has manufacturing partnerships with Nikon, Fabrinet and Veoneer for the automation of its optical laser technology to increase volume production and drive down the cost of the sensors.

“Partnering with Graf Industrial will provide the opportunity to enhance our leading position in the lidar and sensor markets broadly around the world, creating new and exciting opportunities for our customers and employees. We will continue to focus on executing our strategic plan to deliver strong and disciplined growth, while realizing attractive returns through prudent capital management,” said Dr Anand Gopalan, CEO of Velodyne.

“We are tremendously excited by the opportunity to partner with David Hall and Velodyne. The leadership team, led by Dr. Anand Gopalan and Drew Hamer, has done an outstanding job in preparing the Company for the inflection point of lidar and becoming a public company,” said James Graf, CEO of GRAF. “We’re especially excited by Velodyne’s potential to greatly improve vehicle safety by augmenting ADAS systems and help leading e-commerce companies and others realize autonomous last-mile delivery.”

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