Lidar Supplier Luminar Adds Auto Veterans as Production Nears
Cutting-edge technology can only take a startup company so far. Successful commercialization also requires a lot of industry-specific knowhow and top-tier talent.
With this in mind, Luminar Technologies is beefing up its management team with several automotive veterans as the 8-year-old startup prepares to scale up production. In May, Volvo chose the company’s lidar sensors as part of an autonomous vehicle package it plans to offer in production cars by 2022.
Meet the New Team
"There is no precedent or playbook for what we're building, so having the best strategic minds to solve complex problems and execute solutions is paramount to our long-term success," explains Luminar CEO Austin Russell.
Those new strategic minds include:
- Tom Fennimore, CFO
- Marc Losewitz, vice president-business development
- Aaron Jefferson, vice president of product
- Jason Rudd, head of business development-Europe
In addition, Matt Simoncini has joined Luminar’s board. Simoncini retired from Lear at the end of 2017 after a six-year stint as the seating giant’s CEO.
Fennimore previously headed the automotive operations for two financial services companies, Goldman Sachs and the Jeffries Group. He led the mergers and acquisitions, investor funding rounds and initial public stock offerings for startups such as Tesla, Mobileye as well as financial deals for several long-time carmakers and tier one suppliers.
Jefferson and Losiewicz both join Luminar from ZF. Jefferson, who also spent 15 years at Delphi (now Aptiv), most recently led ZF’s global product strategy for advanced driver assist systems (ADAS). Losiewicz, who managed ZF’s ADAS product line, also worked for Continental.
Rudd most recently was vice present of sales and marketing for Neteera Technologies in Israel. He previously spent 11 years at Mobileye and worked for TRW. He will continue to reside in Israel.
Fennimore will be based in Luminar's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters. Jefferson, Losiewicz and Simoncini will work out of Luminar’s new Detroit office.
Luminar also recently hired Lonnie Bernardoni as vice president of supply chain to help launch production of the company’s Iris sensing technology in Orlando, Fla. He previously worked for Magic Leap, where he established optical manufacturing processes and supplier logistics for high-volume applications.
Luminar says it has development contracts with 12 carmakers. In addition to Volvo, the company lists Toyota and Volkswagen as customers.
The startup has raised $250 million to date and is valued at about $900 million. Volvo acquired a minority stake in the company two years ago.