Austin K. Russell

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Austin K. Russell
Austin Russell 27987032848.jpg Austin_Russell_27987032848.jpg
Russell in 2018
BornSan Juan Capistrano, California, U.S.
🏳️ NationalityAmerican
💼 Occupation
Founder & CEO, Luminar Technologies

Austin K. Russell (born March 14, 1995) is an American entrepreneur who is the founder of Luminar Technologies, a startup focused on lidar for autonomous driving.[1][2] He holds multiple patents in lidar technologies.[3] Upon Luminar's December 2020 initial public offering, he became the world's youngest self-made billionaire.


In 2012, Russell founded Luminar at age 16 while an independent researcher at the University of California, Irvine’s Beckman Laser Institute where he was studying in lieu of high school. In 2013, he enrolled in Stanford University's Applied Physics as an undergraduate student and dropped out shortly afterwards to pursue building his company.[citation needed]

Luminar developed a mounted box with a photodectector capable of receiving lidar at a wavelength of 1550 nanometers, which enables a range of 200 meters compared to existing competitors with a 30 to 40 meter range using wavelengths of 905 nanometers.[4][5] Since emerging from stealth in 2017, Luminar has signed partnerships with Daimler Trucks, Toyota, Audi, Volvo, and other manufacturers building autonomous vehicles.[6][7][8][9]

On December 3, 2020, Luminar went public on the NASDAQ with a market capitalization of $8.1 billion via a special purpose acquisition company.[10] Alec Gores joined the company's board as a board member as a result of the merger.[11] Russell's approximately one-third stake of 104.7 million shares made him, on paper, the world's youngest self-made billionaire with a net worth of $2.4 billion at the close of Luminar's first day of trading.[citation needed]


Russell was named a Thiel Fellow in 2013 and he credits dropping out as being the foundation of his success.[12] In 2017 he was named to the MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35.[13]


  1. "Full Page Reload". IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News.
  2. Captain, Sean (2017-04-13). "This 22-Year-Old CEO Wants To Help Make Self-Driving Cars Affordable". Fast Company. Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  3. "Austin K. Russell Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search".
  4. Ross, Philip (2017-05-19). "22-Year-Old Lidar Whiz Claims Breakthrough". IEEE Spectrum.
  5. Hecht, Jeff (2017-07-05). "Under the Hood of Luminar's Long-Reach Lidar". IEEE Spectrum.
  6. "Daimler Trucks, Torc and Luminar. Partnership to enable highly automated trucking". Daimler Trucks. 2020-10-30.
  7. Davies, Alex (2017-09-27). "Toyota and a Boy Wonder Team Up on Self-Driving Cars". WIRED Magazine.
  8. Wiggers, Kyle (2018-12-18). "Luminar collaborates with Audi's Autonomous Intelligent Driving on driverless vehicles". VentureBeat.
  9. Korosec, Kirsten (2020-05-06). "Volvo to use Luminar's lidar in production vehicles to unlock automated driving on highways". TechCrunch.
  10. Schubarth, Cromwell (2020-12-03). "Palo Alto lidar unicorn Luminar's value soars past $8B in Wall Street debut (Video)".
  11. Coppola, Gabrielle; Baker, Liana; Tse, Crystal (2020-08-24). "Peter Thiel-Backed Startup Luminar to Go Public in $3.4 Billion Merger".
  12. The Thiel Foundation (2013-05-09). "Peter Thiel Announces 2013 Class of "20 Under 20" Thiel Fellows".
  13. "2017". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2020-12-07.

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