Forbes

AUSTIN RUSSELL

$2.4 billion • Sensors • U.S.

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Russell, 26, spent his teens doing research at the University of California at Irvine’s Beckman Laser Institute. The lanky 6-foot-4 entreprene­ur dropped out of Stanford in 2012 to found laser lidar (an acronym for light, detection and

ranging) startup Luminar Technologi­es after getting a $100,000 fellowship from billionair­e tech investor Peter Thiel. Its sensors now help self-driving cars of customers such as Volvo, Toyota and Intel’s Mobileye see in 3D by bouncing laser beams off nearby objects and vehicles’ surroundin­gs. The company listed on the Nasdaq via a SPAC merger with Gores Metropoulo­s in December 2020. Russell, who owns about one-third of it, became the world’s youngest self-made billionair­e overnight.

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