Israeli LiDAR technologies developer announced on Friday that it’s headed towards a NASDAQ IPO, based on a $1.4 billion valuation.

Crossing the billion-dollar valuation barrier

Innoviz develops High Definition Solid-State LiDAR sensors, which aim to provide precise imaging of an autonomous vehicle’s surroundings, helping improve and ultimately perfect the vehicle’s autonomous decision making. In comparison to similar technologies on the market, Innoviz claims that its LiDAR displays both upgraded resolution and range while minimizing deployment efforts and cost, which are highly important factors regarding mass production and adoption by leading automotive manufacturers.

The company reported on Friday that it will take the NASDAQ IPO route - based on a $1.4 billion valuation. The IPO will follow the SPAC model, meaning a merger with Collective Growth Corporation. As part of the public offering, Innoviz will raise $300 million, with $150 million in cash and $200 million fully committed common stock PIPE led by Antara Capital and includes strategic investments from Magna International, Innoviz's Tier-1 partner.  Upon completion of the transaction, the merged company will retain the Innoviz Technologies, Ltd. name and is expected to be listed on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol "INVZ".

In a conversation with Geektime, Co-Founder and CBO Oren Rosenzweig explains that going with SPAC has numerous advantages: “SPAC is an excellent financing tool - in order to quickly attract quality investors and go public, the process is mostly done by the SPAC group. We formed a strong bond with Perception Capital, which led the round with Antara - both bringing added value to the company.”

What’s the endgame for the cash influx? Development? Marketing? To allow executives, employees, and stakeholders to cash in on their options?

Rosenzweig: “All the capital is going into the company, no investor nor founder is cashing in. The goal is to continue and grow the team to support more customers and develop the products’ next generations.”

“Coronavirus created a few operational challenges”

CEO and Co-Funder Omer Keilaf tells Geektime that the company is not free to reveal acquisition offers: “We chose to go public because it gives the necessary tools to lead our market.”

Innoviz deploys a two-headed innovative solution, with its perception software designed to be the ideal complement to the Company's hardware offerings with advanced AI and machine learning-based classification, detection, and tracking features. Just a couple of months ago, Innoviz launched InnovizTwo - its next-gen LiDAR product that offers automotive manufacturers a significant cost-reduction and performance upgrade. In addition, German automotive giant BMW chose to partner with Innoviz to tap into their LiDAR imaging magic, among other technological collaborations.

Five years ago Elon Musk was right... reality has changed

Major vehicle manufacturers and automotive technology providers utilize technologies to allow vehicles to “see” their surroundings. While some manufacturers go the LiDAR route, other companies like MobilEye and Tesla prefer dedicated cameras. Tesla Chairman and real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk, was considered one of the leading opponents of the tech and wasn’t afraid to criticize it at every turn.

Last year, Elon Musk called LiDAR technology a “joke”, saying: “Lidar is a fool’s errand. LiDARS are expensive and unnecessary.” Let me guess that you disagree…

Keilaf: “Five years ago Elon was right because while he was developing his vehicle, there weren’t affordable LiDAR solutions at scale yet. The reality has changed but need has stayed the same. Complete autonomous driving demands complete fluidity and now our LiDAR combines highly-dependable quality sensor imaging technology at market price, and not just for high-end cars.”

What’s Innoviz’s biggest challenge today?

Rosenzweig: “Our biggest challenge is supporting multiple large projects with automotive manufacturers while advancing next-gen developments.”

Five years ago it seemed as if the autonomous vehicle revolution would be cruising down the highway in 2020. When do you think it will finally happen? Are we still lacking the technology? Regulations? Perspective?

Rosenzweig: “The gap is currently in the cost and software viability. A full-on autonomous roadway demands numerous testing and development and that takes a long time to complete. Our LiDAR solves the first problem and assists the second as well. High-quality resolution LiDAR technologies enable vehicles a simplified software that provides a comprehensive image of their surroundings. I believe that autonomous driving will significantly increase in the coming years.”