Autonomous driving technology company Luminar’s stock has soared since making its NYSE debut, and founder and CEO Austin Russell credits the foundation of his success to dropping out from Stanford University.
Russell told FOX Business Network’s “The Claman Countdown” on Thursday that he took up entrepreneur Peter Thiel’s challenge to quit college in exchange for a $100,000 investment. Newly-minted by Forbes magazine as the youngest self-made billionaire, Russell explained that the risk was clearly worth the reward.
“I always knew academia wasn’t going to be the right route for this,” he said. “Because if you really want to make a huge impact into the world, being stuck in a given lab is not the right way to do it. You have to be able to commercialize it … You have to make it economically viable.”
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“That’s why I’m just so happy to see all this value creation, and having an opportunity to really apply everything that we do into the real world,” Russell added.
Russell explained that his parents had always been “super supportive” and encouraged him to do his technological “black magic” in the garage. Now, his technology has produced hands-off, eyes-off highway driving coming in 2022.
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The Luminar stock went public on the NASDAQ on Thursday via SPAC and jumped nearly 30% upon opening. Russell said the eight-year path to going public has been “incredible and surreal.”
“We’ve got some great feathers in our cap, some major OEM and, you know, business wins leading up to it,” he said. “Just keep charging on.”
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