Luminar Technologies becomes public company as lidar race builds

Luminar Technologies Inc started trading as a public company on Thursday under the ticker symbol LAZR, marking the second Silicon Valley firm to go public while working to deliver a key sensor for self-driving cars.

Luminar makes a lidar sensor, which helps gives vehicles a three-dimensional view of the road. It became public through a merger with Gores Metropoulos Inc, a special purpose acqusition company, or SPAC, a shell company that uses proceeds from an IPO to acquire a private company, typically within two years.

For companies such as Lumiar, which raised $590 million from the merger, SPACs have become an alternative path to public markets instead of a traditional IPO.