Silicon Valley Lidar Startup Aeva Inc. Agrees to go Public in a SPAC Deal That Will Value the Company at $2.1 Billion
Silicon Valley lidar startup Aeva Inc said on Monday it has agreed to go public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) InterPrivate Acquisition Corp.
The reverse merger deal will make Aeva the third lidar technology developer seeking to go public this year through a deal with a SPAC. Aeva's planned IPO follows Lidar pioneer Velodyne Lidar Inc. and lidar startup Luminar Technologies Inc. that both went public in a reverse merger in recent months.
The combined company will be renamed "Aeva, Inc." and is expected to continue to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker symbol "AEVA." The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.
The newly combined company will have an implied pro forma equity value of approximately $2.1 billion.
"We look forward to our combination with Aeva, which was the clear stand-out amongst the 100+ merger targets we evaluated. The Company's breakthrough technology combines the key advantages of lidar, radar, motion sensing, and vision in a single compact chip," said Ahmed Fattouh, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of InterPrivate.
The new crop of companies launching U.S. IPO's are turning to Wall Street to raise new capital. Investors pushed Tesla's stock to an all-time high this summer. Tesla's rapid rise resulted in strong investor interest in electric vehicles startups, battery makers and related companies supplying the technology for autonomous driving and electric vehicles.
Aeva, founded in 2017, is one of the first companies to develop a lidar sensor built from the ground up using silicon photonics for mass scale applications in the automotive space, consumer electronics and other fields such as robotics. This solid state lidar has no moving parts for enhanced reliability.
"From the beginning, we believed that the only way to achieve the holy grail of LiDAR is to be integrated on a chip. Over the last four years, we did it by leveraging Aeva's unique coherent FMCW approach. With today's announcement, we can use our development efforts to expand into new markets that were simply not possible before," said Mina Rezk, Co-founder and CTO at Aeva.
Unlike traditional lidar sensors that rely on Time of Flight (ToF) technology to measure distance and reflectivity, Aeva's solution offers improved sensing capabilities using Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology. One of the biggest advantages of FMCW lidar is that it can measure the velocity of moving objects in the path of the autonomous vehicle. It also offers greater range and resolution across varied weather conditions.
Aeva's FMCW technology also uses significantly less power than other available technologies, including ToF lidar sensors, which results in additional cost savings for automakers.
The high cost of lidar sensors is a barrier to many developers of self-driving vehicles and other automotive safety systems that rely on the perception technology. As a result, companies have developed new, lower cost solid state sensors over the past several years.
The original bulky rotating lidar sensors used by Google's first self-driving vehicles a decade ago cost upwards of $75,000 each and were supplied by lidar inventor Velodyne. Aeva's lidar sensors address the demand for lower cost sensors using silicon photonics, while also helping to accelerate the development of autonomous technologies.
Aeva is competing with many new lidar startups looking to supply their advanced sensors to the industry as automakers continue to add advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and automated driving capabilities to their vehicles. These enhanced safety systems include adaptive cruise control and often rely on lidar for object detection. The lidar sensors act as an extra set of "eyes" for drivers.
Aeva's lidar sensor is built using using silicon photonics.
Aeva was founded in 2017 by former Apple engineers Soroush Salehian and Mina Rezk. Since then, the company's team has grown to over 100 employees. Aeva says its engaged with thirty of the top players in automated and autonomous driving across passenger, trucking and mobility.
In September, Aeva announced a production partnership with ZF, one of the world's largest automotive Tier 1 suppliers. The deal includes ZF lending its extensive experience in manufacturing automotive-grade sensors at scale for the world's automakers.
But Aeva's lidar sensors have applications beyond the auto industry. The company plans to offer its 4D perception platform to a wide range of industries, including consumer electronics, consumer health, industrial robotics, and security.
"From the beginning our vision has been to create a fundamentally new sensing system to enable perception across all devices. This milestone accelerates our journey toward delivering the next paradigm in perception to mass market applications, not just in automotive but consumer and beyond," said Soroush Salehian, Co-founder and CEO at Aeva.
In April 2019, Aeva announced a partnership with Audi's Autonomous Intelligent Driving subsidiary to supply its lidar technology. Aeva's FMCW lidar was selected by Audi due to its ability to measure velocity of objects.
Aeva has also partnered with multiple other passenger car, trucking and mobility platforms to further adoption of ADAS and autonomous applications.
The boards of directors of both InterPrivate and Aeva have unanimously approved the proposed business combination. However, the deal is still subject to approval by InterPrivate and Aeva stockholders and other customary closing conditions.
Following completion of the transaction, Aeva will retain its management team. Soroush Salehian will continue to serve as Chief Executive Officer and Mina Rezk will continue to serve as Chief Technology Officer.
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