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Innoviz set to go public with $1.4B valuation

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Omer Keilaf, Innoviz CEO, discuss the company’s going public via SPAC and the future of autonomous vehicles.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The Israeli LIDAR startup Innoviz is going public next month at a $1.4 billion reverse merger with Collective Growth Corp. LIDAR sensors, of course, allow autonomous vehicles to see and safely navigate their surroundings.

Joining me now from Israel is Innoviz's CEO Omer Keilaf. Omer, good to see you. There is a lot of money pouring into EV-- the AV space, rather. Innoviz is going to be the fourth LIDAR company to go public in just the past year via SPAC. What do you plan to do with the money you raised from that sale next month?

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OMER KEILAF: Yeah, thank you. So Innoviz is now moving into the next stage of going into high volume production. So that's a big part of our need to expedite our process. We have been working on a BMW program to go public in a couple of years and are now engaging into additional, several programs which requires us to grow.

We already have our first product available, InnovizOne, which you actually can see on the screen, which is a very high performance product. But we are now also launching our next generation product, which is even higher performance and at a lower cost. We want to penetrate the bigger markets.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, talk to me a little bit about these new use cases for LIDAR. I know you're planning things in different areas, campuses-- I think school campuses, agriculture, even outer space. What are some of the other use cases?

OMER KEILAF: Yeah, I think the opportunities for LIDAR are, I think, beyond imagination. Every time I meet with different companies, I learn about new uses for 3D sensing that are fairly small and automotive grade. But to say we are very focused on automotive, this is really, I think, our advantage, to be part of a series production like BMW.

There are many cases like level 3 and level 4 and shuttle businesses that we are involved with. But as you said earlier, that there are really endless opportunities for all the sensors and so on.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You mentioned BMW. In addition to that automaker, do you have other supplier agreements in place?

OMER KEILAF: Yeah, sure. So we are currently working with faulty ones that we work with in order to adopt the technology in different programs. There are several car makers that we are now in kind of advanced technology programs that we are involved with. I expect to be able to announce a few in the coming months.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right. That's exciting stuff. We also saw at CES this year, which of course was all virtual, that Intel's Mobileye announced they want to start making LIDAR sensors in house. What does that mean for the overall space? And I'm thinking specifically in terms of cost, because we know these LIDAR sensors can be quite costly. Will having somebody with that much sort of manpower, deep pockets, like an Intel, help to drive the overall costs lower?

OMER KEILAF: So I think everybody realizes that the auto space is now taken over by technology. You see Tesla. You know, everybody's asking about their valuation, but their valuation is not based on becoming-- being an auto company. It's actually a technology company. You see companies like Intel and Apple realizing the opportunity in this market. And I'm not surprised to see that they are trying to get a bigger portion out of it. Intel is talking about the LIDAR that is going to be available in 2025. There is today no other solution but Innoviz that is going to be available in the market in the coming actually month that will be able to be already embedded in series production.

And by the time of 2025, our product will be even at the lower size and lower cost and higher performance. So I think that eventually the wide adoption of InnovizOne technology would be well accepted by many.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Omer, when you look at the timeline-- and I know this is a tough question and you're asked it a lot, but I want to ask it anyway-- how close are we, do you think, to seeing passenger self-driving cars on the road? Because we keep hearing about this technology. When might we actually have it?

OMER KEILAF: Yeah, so the biggest program today that is in development for series production for passenger car is the one of BMW. It's a program that has been running in the last few years. We've been working with them for that long. And you can see on the screen actual-- there are actual products running with our computer vision.

The target is to become available in 2022. And you will start to see some cars in the coming-- in the very near future.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: OK. We'll leave it there with the very near future. We're looking forward to it. And finally, a lot of people are talking about the space being crowded, the LIDAR space. Do you think that consolidation is inevitable? Might we start seeing these companies combine or maybe some automakers buy up the LIDAR sensor companies?

OMER KEILAF: So consolidation already started. So two years ago, there were about 80 companies. I'm not surprised to see four at this time. At some point, there will be only about two or three, and in the auto space there is always consolidation.

I think the companies that are today public are quite different than each other, although it looks the same from the outside. It looks very noisy and very difficult to understand. But really, the big differentiation between these companies, we are very much focused on the consumer because we have a product that probably has the highest speed in this area.

Others are working on kind of last mile delivery, drones, robotics. I think that Innoviz today is the leader in passenger cars. And I think there is room for several.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right. Omer Keilaf, CEO of Innoviz, so we look forward to talking to you next month when you become a public company. Thank you.

OMER KEILAF: Thank you very much.