Item 1. Business.
Ouster, Inc. (“Ouster” or the “Company”) is building the eyes of autonomy. We are a leading provider of high-resolution digital lidar sensors and enabling software that gives robots, machinery, vehicles and fixed infrastructure advanced 3D vision allowing them to safely interact with the physical world.
We design and manufacture digital lidar sensors that we believe to be the highest performing, lowest cost lidar solutions available today across each of our four target markets: automotive, industrial automation; smart infrastructure and robotics.
We believe that our digital lidar technology positions us at the center of a global revolution in autonomy. We believe that 3D vision technologies, coupled with artificial intelligence, will power new autonomous technologies that in turn will
fundamentally disrupt business models across many existing industries and also enable entirely new industries and capabilities.
In the year ended December 31, 2021, 34% of our total sensors shipped were to automotive customers.The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid shift towards advanced safety and autonomy features, powered by lidar, and we believe we are uniquely positioned, with our true solid-state digital lidar technology, to enable this transformation. We work with companies across the entire automotive ecosystem, from technology providers to direct automotive parts suppliers (“Tier 1s”) original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”), to design and manufacture lidar sensors for these advanced vehicle systems.
Beyond the automotive market, we believe that there is an even larger market for lidar sensors. We believe our highly flexible digital lidar architecture strongly positions us to address what we believe is a rapidly growing demand. Our industrial customers today are using lidar to increase safety and automating operations across the global supply chain, in material handling vehicles at ports and warehouses, in off-highway vehicles at mines and farms, and in manufacturing equipment in factories. In our smart infrastructure vertical, cities are increasing safety and efficiency through using lidar control traffic lights and warning systems, and security companies are improving intrusion detection and tracking by augmenting existing CCTV systems with the spatial tracking capabilities of lidar. We believe these markets present a significant opportunity for growth, as they touch nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Approximately 66% of our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 came from customers outside the automotive industry, which we believe illustrates both the flexibility of our technology and the opportunity across our target markets globally.
We envision a future where lidar-powered solutions are widespread, with useful and affordable 3D perception capabilities built into every moving robot, car, truck and drone, as well as every factory, building, stoplight, dock, and airport terminal.
We have invested heavily in our patent portfolio since our inception by pursuing comprehensive coverage of invention families, use cases, and broad international coverage. As of December 31, 2021, we held over 50 patents and nearly 200 pending patent applications.
We believe that our semiconductor-based digital approach mirrors the type of evolution seen during the analog-to-digital transition across the electronics and camera industries. The end result in each of these other industrial transitions was the emergence of high-performance, low-cost digital technology that addressed expanded and diverse use cases. We believe these technology breakthroughs are central to our competitive advantage and dramatically improve sensor performance while making our approach difficult to replicate. In the lidar space, we believe analog technologies have less room for future improvement. In contrast, we anticipate that the key components of our digital lidar have many years of exponential growth ahead, distinguishing Ouster from its analog-focused competitors.
We believe the simplicity of our digital lidar design gives us meaningful cost advantages in manufacturing, supply chain, and production yields. A common digital lidar architecture underpins our entire product portfolio, which we believe will drive economies of scale in our supply chain. With virtually unlimited software-defined customization, we are able to deliver new SKUs for industry-specific applications, expanding our product offerings with minimal manufacturing or inventory changes. We continue to expand our manufacturing capacity by outsourcing to our manufacturing partner, Benchmark Electronics, Inc. (“Benchmark”). Benchmark manufactures our products at its facility in Thailand, which we expect will reduce product costs and allow us to rapidly scale production to meet our anticipated product demand. Based on cost quotes for our products in mass production, we believe our manufacturing costs to be lower than certain of our competitors, and we expect our manufacturing costs per unit to decrease further with higher volumes.
Our mission to make the physical world safer and more efficient is aligned with our commitment to sustainability now and into the future. We believe that our lidar technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for our customers, driving the efficient use of vehicles, industrial machinery, and robotics across our end markets. Greater levels of industrial and vehicular automation have been shown to have the potential to significantly reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, helping to curb the effects of climate change. Likewise, smarter cities powered by lidar can better manage traffic, reduce commute times, and further reduce emissions. In smart city use cases, Ouster’s lidar sensors also can be customized with a “privacy-safe” mode, protecting citizens from facial recognition technology. We believe that our lidar products offer superior performance at lower cost and that this will facilitate a wide array of sustainable solutions that generally help drive lidar technology into the mainstream.
We have entered into several, and are actively negotiating a number of additional, multi-year contracts with our customers. In 2021 and 2020 we had over 600 and 500 paying customers, respectively. In 2021, with the acquisition of Sense Photonics, Inc. (“Sense”) and establishment of Ouster Automotive, we increased our number of automotive engagements significantly. Leading with our true solid-state technology, we are working directly with top automotive OEM and Tier 1s in North America, Europe, and Asia. We expect these engagements to continue to rapidly grow in the coming years, as more advanced Advanced Driver Assisted Systems (“ADAS”) and Automated Driving systems enter production and come
to market. Outside automotive, our industrial, smart infrastructure, and robotics businesses have continued their rapid growth. We continue to add new industrial, smart infrastructure, and robotics customers, and traction with existing customers is increasing as they progress and bring their products to market. Just as we have seen in automotive, we expect our engagements to rapidly scale over the coming years as our customers bring both advanced safety systems and autonomous operation systems into production.
We see a future where our digital technology enables lidar to become universal, playing a key role in the autonomy revolution that will change innumerable aspects of our economy and daily lives. We believe Ouster’s patented digital approach to lidar positions us well to be at the epicenter of this societal shift, and we anticipate that our software-defined product architecture can accelerate adoption and unlock more applications for lidar in our focus markets and beyond.
Digital Lidar Technology
Our founders and engineering team have many years of lidar industry experience. By leveraging our deep knowledge of lidar technology, we have invented and patented an integrated, semiconductor-based digital lidar technology, which consists of the following key features:
Patented digital lidar architecture
Our digital lidar systems are based on a simplified architecture that achieves high resolution and reliability at a lower cost than analog lidar systems. Our sensors have three main technologies that, combined with embedded software, power our high-performance “OS” and “DF” product lines.
Custom system-on-a-chip (“SoC”) with single photon avalanche diode (“SPAD”) detectors
Our sensors contain a custom-designed SoC that replaces the functionality of hundreds of discrete analog components and integrates those capabilities onto a single complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (“CMOS”) chip.
In our “OS” product line, we are currently on our fourth-generation SoC, “L2X”, which combines significant processing power with a 128-channel SPAD array onto a single piece of silicon. Our SoC is capable of counting individual photons in order to detect very weak laser light pulses from long range targets. This digital SPAD-based approach enables our “OS” sensors to be compact, high-performance, and low-cost in order to provide advanced autonomy functionality to our industrial, robotics, smart infrastructure, and automotive customers.
Our “DF” product line currently features our first generation solid-state CMOS SoC. Powered by this chip, the solid-state “DF” product line features short, medium, and long-range sensing options that we believe has the potential to meet the performance, reliability, design, and cost requirements of global automotive OEMs.
Vertical cavity surface emitting laser (“VCSEL”) array
Paired with our digital SPAD SoC is an array of VCSELs. By using VCSEL technology, we can place our laser emitters into a dense array. This dense, compact approach enables us to increase our resolution without increasing the size or complexity of our sensors.
Patented micro-optical system
In addition to our detector SoC and VCSEL array, our sensors feature patented micro-optical systems that enhance the performance of both our emitters and detectors. The combined effect of these micro-optical systems on sensor performance is equivalent to an increase in detector efficiency of multiple orders of magnitude. We believe this breakthrough intellectual property gives us significant competitive advantages over other companies that are currently attempting or may attempt to use a similar digital architecture.
Our existing embedded software is field-upgradeable, which enables us to customize and improve our sensor’s capabilities. We believe that the flexibility of this existing embedded software, together with embedded software that we develop in the future, will create an avenue for software-based enhancements of performance and customization of our products that will be capable of addressing myriad end-market customers’ specific technical requirements.
We currently offer two digital lidar product lines, our “OS” scanning sensors and our “DF” true solid-state flash sensors. Introduced in 2018, our OS product line today features three different sensor models available in numerous configurations. We are currently developing our solid-state digital flash the DF product line, which replaces the “ES” sensor line and accelerates our product roadmap. In October of 2021, Ouster acquired Sense Photonics, Inc. (“Sense”) a developer of solid-state flash lidar based on VCSEL and SPAD technology. This acquisition enables the development of the DF sensor line which leverages technology and engineering expertise from both companies.
OS Product line
The OS product line, based on our fourth-generation L2X SoC, is available in three different models to meet the needs of our end customers. The model options include the ultra-wide view “OS0,” the mid-range “OS1,” and the long-range “OS2.” Within each of these models we offer numerous configuration options, including but not limited to different resolutions and different data output structures. As we continue to release new generations of the silicon CMOS SoCs that power the OS product line, we expect the performance of the sensors to improve.
•Resolution options (channels): 32, 64 and 128
•Range: 50 meters
•Field of View (FoV): 90° vertical FoV & 360° horizontal FoV
•Horizontal resolution (@ 10 Hz): 2048
•Precision: ±1.5 – 5 cm
•Points per second (@128 channels): 2.6 million
• Power consumption: 14 – 20 W
•Environmental protection: IP68, IP69K
•Customization options: 30+
•Illustrative use cases: Factory AGVs, Automated forklifts, Robo-taxis, Building security, Autonomous shuttles, Anonymous People counting
•Resolution options (channels): 32, 64 and 128
• Range: 120 meters
• FoV: 45° vertical FoV & 360° horizontal FoV
• Horizontal resolution (@ 10 Hz): 2048
• Precision: ±0.7 – 5 cm
• Points per second: 2.6 million
• Power consumption: 14 – 20 W
• Customization options: 30+
• Environmental protection: IP68, IP69K
• Illustrative use cases: Last-mile delivery robots, Autonomous trucking, Autonomous mining vehicles, Autonomous agricultural vehicles, Autonomous buses, Autonomous drones, Traffic safety
•Resolution options (channels): 32, 64 and 128
•Range: 240 meters
•FoV: 22.5° vertical FoV & 360° horizontal FoV
•Horizontal resolution (@ 10 Hz): 2048
•Precision: ±2.5 – 8 cm
•Points per second (@128 channels): 2.6 million
•Power consumption: 18 – 24 W
•Customization options: 15+
•Environmental protection: IP68, IP69K
•Illustrative use cases: Autonomous trucking, Robo-taxis, Autonomous shuttles, Traffic analytics, Autonomous mining, Building security
Within our OS sensor models, we offer numerous customization options, all enabled by embedded software. For each of our three models, we offer resolution options of 128 lines vertically (“channels”), 64 channels, or 32 channels. Additionally, within the 64 and 32 channel options, we offer further customization to determine the channels are distributed throughout the vertical field-of-view. These options for beam spacing are: uniform (evenly distributed channels), gradient (denser channels around the center of the vertical field-of-view and sparser by the top and bottom edges), below horizon (evenly spaced on the bottom half of the field of view), and above horizon (evenly spaced in the top half of the field-of-view). Illustrative beam spacing options for the OS1 model are found below:
In addition to beam spacing options, we also offer a “Privacy Mode” configuration which removes data that could potentially be used for facial recognition purposes. Through our existing and future embedded software, we anticipate offering additional customization options to our customers as demand arises. Because these configurations are offered through software, the incremental cost of additional options is lower than designing new hardware, giving us operational flexibility to respond to market demand.
DF product line
The DF series is a suite of short, mid, and long-range solid-state digital lidar sensors. The true solid-state DF series is built for best-in-class reliability, durability, and affordability. The DF series is designed to meet automaker requirements for ADAS and automated driving, while seamlessly integrating into the vehicle architecture and design. We expect to make the DF series available for consumer vehicles starting production in 2025. The Company is already shipping functional prototypes and samples to OEMs and Tier 1s partners.
The DF product line was specifically engineered to meet consumer ADAS performance requirements and certifications related to automotive functional safety and reliability. Its key features include high resolution sensors, adaptability, and scalability.
High resolution. The patented breakthrough solid-state digital flash architecture produces high-resolution 3D point clouds.
Adaptability. The multi-sensor suite is a flexible platform that can be easily adapted to different form-factors and sensor configurations to provide varying ranges, fields of view, and vehicle design freedoms – all with a simple change in optics or housing.
Scalability. The true solid-state DF product line is highly manufacturable and offers the durability, reliability, and affordability needed for automotive series production.We are offering individual solid-state sensors as well as a multi-sensor lidar suite at a price point that we believe could enable broad adoption in consumer vehicles. We believe that we are well-positioned to deliver on OEM requirements with a single supplier offering, reducing overall costs and making us a preferred potential partner for both automotive OEMs and Tier 1s.
Product Roadmap And Development
Our digital lidar technology is core to our products. By transitioning to our digital architecture, we expect our product improvements will be primarily driven by improvements to our semiconductors—the receiver SoC and VCSEL laser array—instead of through complete redesigns of our sensors or further significant changes in architecture.
We expect to maintain our OS product line with our three current sensor models. Our product roadmap primarily consists of designing, fabricating and integrating improved semiconductors into the OS product line, which we expect to improve the range and resolution of our sensors, among other features, while making no major changes to the form factor of our sensors.
We have already shipped functional forward-facing prototypes for the automotive ADAS market and intend to release our first prototypes as early as 2022. After the initial release, we anticipate our DF product line will improve in performance over time as we improve our core SoC and laser components.
We target four markets globally: industrial; smart infrastructure; robotics; and automotive. In total, we shipped sensors to over 600 paying customers in 2021 across these diversified end markets. For the year ended December 31, 2021, no single customer accounted for more than 10% of our revenue from product sales.
Our customers in the industrial market are generally engaged in the manufacturing, operation, or after-market modification of heavy industrial machinery, which includes mining vehicles, construction vehicles, agricultural vehicles, and port machinery among other machines. Lidar is used on heavy machinery to enable autonomous usage of the machinery and to improve worker safety. We believe that our industrial customers value the high resolution, range, small form factor, and high reliability of our digital lidar sensors.
Our customers in the smart infrastructure market are generally engaged in the monitoring and analysis of pedestrian and vehicle movements for the purpose of providing building security, improving road user safety, and increasing roadway efficiency. This market includes federal, state, and local governments as well as private commercial businesses. For our smart infrastructure customers, digital lidar provides accurate spatial data, immunity to low lighting conditions, and privacy protection, which are all areas where traditional cameras may struggle. We believe that our smart infrastructure customers value the high resolution, 360° horizontal field-of-view, and high reliability of our digital lidar sensors.
Our customers in the robotics industry are generally engaged in the design, production, operation, or after-market modification of small mobile human-less vehicles, which includes wheeled robots, legged robots, and drones among other vehicles. Our customers in the robotics market include both commercial entities and nonprofit entities, such as research institutions. Our customers in the robotics market are installing lidar sensors for autonomous navigation, collision avoidance, and mapping in order to provide services such as last-mile delivery, street sweeping, and asset inspection. We believe our robotics customers value the high resolution, wide vertical field-of-view, and high reliability of our digital lidar sensors.
Our customers in the automotive industry fall into two categories: customers developing various forms of self-driving technology for driverless mobility and freight applications, and companies developing consumer ADAS. Both groups are generally engaged in the design, production, manufacture, operation, or after-market modification of automobiles, which includes consumer and commercial vehicles, commercial heavy trucks, and buses among other vehicles. Automotive customers use lidar as a core component in ADAS and for autonomous driving. We believe that our automotive customers value the high resolution, high reliability, and cost of our digital lidar technology.
Our Competitive Strengths
We believe the following strengths will allow us to maintain and extend our position as a leading provider in high-resolution lidar solutions.
Patented digital lidar technology
We invented and patented our digital lidar technology beginning in 2015 and have since launched a suite of products built on a shared architecture that are competitive with legacy analog lidar. We believe that our lidar technology breaks the link between cost and performance in the lidar industry. Our proprietary SoC replaces hundreds to thousands of discrete components with a single tightly integrated SPAD receiver array, and our high-efficiency VCSEL array integrates every laser into a single die. Moreover, our patented micro-optical system increases digital lidar performance by the equivalent of
an orders-of-magnitude increase in detector efficiency. We believe that this architecture will allow us to continue to increase sensor performance while reducing its cost for many years to come. The Sense acquisition enabled us to acquire significant intellectual property, which we believe will distinguish us in the digital lidar space and provides a strong moat around our solid-state DF sensors.
High performance at an affordable price
As we introduce future generations of our proprietary SoC, we expect to be able to offer improved resolution, range, precision, reliability, and unlock new data types. Our simple digital architecture shared across our products results in a single manufacturing process and common supply chain for all of our sensor models that we believe results in cost advantages that help us offer lower prices to our customers while maintaining gross margins.
Flexible and scalable product architecture
Our products employ a software-defined architecture, enabling rapid customization in the software layer, and a simple shared hardware architecture for scalable manufacturing. With software-defined products continuing to drive low-cost customization, we expect to develop new SKUs for industry-specific applications, expanding our product offering without requiring significant manufacturing or inventory changes.
Large and diversified customer base
We sold sensors to over 600 paying customers worldwide in 2021 and no single customer accounted for more than 10% of our revenue in that time period. We believe that the diversity of our customer base and our presence in all four of our targeted markets gives Ouster several advantages. First, our customer and market diversity add stability to our business. By diversifying our customer base, we are able to reduce our exposure to the risk of customer development delays or regulatory changes that may affect our sales to a single customer or in a particular market rather than all four of the targeted markets. Second, we believe that a large, diverse customer base will ultimately result in more engaged customers purchasing our products and help us to achieve higher sales more quickly than other companies that depend on a smaller set of customers in fewer markets. As we increase our sales volume, we expect our cost per sensor to decrease, allowing us to compete more effectively in each of the targeted markets. Finally, we believe our early entrance into non-automotive markets will enable us to gain market-specific expertise, informing our product development decisions so that we may more effectively customize our products’ fit for the end market customers’ needs. We also believe that our early entrance into our targeted markets affords us the opportunity to establish strong relationships globally with key customers in each market.
Volume manufacturing today
To achieve our vision of making lidar technology widely adopted, we designed our technology for high-volume manufacturing. We are successfully expanding our manufacturing capacity by outsourcing manufacturing to the Thailand facility of our manufacturing partner Benchmark. We believe our relationship with Benchmark provides a myriad of benefits, including the ability to leverage Benchmark’s manufacturing capacity to help us scale our production.
Digital solid-state technology positioned to capture automotive scale
We expect that our prospective customers in the ADAS market will select lidar suppliers primarily based on the anticipated ability to meet performance, reliability, design, and cost requirements. We believe that the true solid-state digital lidar technology in our DF sensors will meet these performance, reliability, design, and cost requirements of the ADAS market, and lead to production wins and growth in this segment.
Highly reliable and rugged technology
In addition to high performance, comparatively low cost, and high customization flexibility, our sensors are designed to be highly reliable. Our OS product line of sensors have achieved the highest ingress ratings in the industry—IP68 and IP69K—meaning they can survive submersion in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and withstand high-temperature power washing. We believe Ouster has one of the lowest field failure rates in the industry, which reduces the total cost of ownership for our sensors. We believe that the high component count of certain analog sensors may cause these sensors to have higher field failure rates and may require recalibration from time-to-time at the expense of the customer, causing
downtime in the field and requiring an inventory of spare lidar parts. We expect our digital technology will significantly reduce these added expenses in both time and money and enable higher revenue and platform utilization by our customers.
Comprehensive IP portfolio
Our digital technology is backed by a comprehensive suite of patent protections. We own numerous issued patents and pending patent applications. As of December 31, 2021, we held more than 50 U.S. patents. We believe these technology breakthroughs are central to our competitive advantage, dramatically improving sensor performance while making our approach difficult to replicate.
Visionary management team
Innovation is central to our corporate culture. Our co-founders Angus Pacala and Mark Frichtl have over 15 years of combined experience in lidar engineering. In collaboration with our executive management team, they drive our vision and corporate strategy. We believe that the digital lidar technology invented by our founders will continue to drive significant improvements in autonomous technology. As the company has developed, we have built a strong supporting team, adding leaders in sales, marketing, operations, engineering, manufacturing, legal, and finance.
Our Growth Strategies
Our growth strategy is based upon three components: the attractive performance and cost economics of our digital lidar technology, the introduction of value-added software, and focused commercial execution.
Today, our digital lidar technology powers OS and DF sensors that are high performance, highly customizable, reliable, and available at a competitive price point. As we continue to upgrade the SoCs powering our OS and DF sensors, we expect to improve the performance of our sensors without significant negative impact to sensor cost or form factor. We plan to leverage this dynamic to grow our sensor sales by steadily improving our product performance while consistently maintaining a competitive price point.
We believe the introduction of value-added software that aids in the processing of lidar data presents a significant growth opportunity. For existing lidar users, software to aid in the processing of lidar data has the potential to decrease development time and improve system performance. For customers who lack expertise in lidar technology, the introduction software to aid in the processing of lidar data will remove a significant barrier to their adoption of lidar technology.
In addition to our sensor and software growth opportunities, we believe we have opportunity to increase our growth through commercial execution excellence. Through building a commercial organization with highly-skilled employees and efficient processes and systems, we believe we can improve our customer acquisition, accelerate existing customer growth, increase sales through distribution networks, and build valuable strategic partnerships.
In 2021, we saw strong growth in customers and strategic customer agreements across each of our four verticals and throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. The automotive vertical, which includes robotaxi, robotrucking, shuttles and buses, and consumer ADAS, accounted for 34% of sensors shipped in 2021. The industrial vertical which includes material handling, off-highway equipment, and factory automation accounted for 25% of sensors shipped in 2021. We saw the strongest growth in smart infrastructure, which accounted for 15% of sensors shipped in 2021 to support 86 deployed projects within our intelligent transportation systems, smart places and security sub-markets. We were also selected for 24 additional smart infrastructure projects in 2021 that are scheduled to be shipped after 2021. Finally, robotics accounted for 26% of sensors shipped in 2021.
Key elements of our growth strategy include:
Execute on our product roadmap
We continue to place a priority on innovation and product development. We plan to continue improving our product performance and adding unique functionality while maintaining a competitive price point. We believe our improving products at a consistently competitive price positions us to win new and expanded business opportunities in our target markets over time.
Commercialize digital lidar for emerging automotive opportunity
We believe that when our planned cost-reduced solid-state DF sensor is released, it will meet the automotive industry’s long-term requirements for performance, cost, and reliability in ADAS applications. As development progresses, we will strive to build and maintain relationships with global automotive OEMs and Tier 1s to further build demand.
Increase investment in software development
Developing software to ingest and make use of lidar data is a complex task. Many of our existing customers have software development and artificial intelligence expertise, yet can spend many months developing software for a single type of lidar sensor. We plan to build software to save our technically advanced customers time in the development of lidar processing algorithms. Furthermore, for less technically advanced customers, they may be unable to make use of a lidar sensor due to a lack of expertise. We plan to build full software solutions to enable these customers to unlock the benefits of lidar technology. We intend to increase our investment in software development in order to accelerate this effort.
Expand our worldwide sales and marketing presence
We shipped sensors to over 600 paying customers worldwide in 2021. To further grow our market share in our target markets, we intend to strategically hire globally, scaling our commercial team to serve the needs of each end market. As our market presence grows through targeted sales and marketing activity, we believe our customer base will grow. In addition, we are increasingly cross-selling within accounts, accessing new projects and opportunities within accounts where we have a beachhead position and increasing the number of addressable opportunities even within single accounts.
Grow sales volumes from existing accounts
We aim to create an established customer base in each of our four target markets that can be further strengthened as our relationships with customers mature. As our customers move through our pipeline from benchtop evaluation to pilot evaluation to pre-production, and finally, to production—we believe our order volumes will increase at each stage in the sales process. We expect that moving to series production can provide a material increase of up to several orders of magnitude in annual sales volume for each given customer program. Sales for these programs are often, but not always, memorialized in multi-year contracts that provide a closer relationship to the customer and increased growth opportunities for us.
Expand our distribution network
While the majority of our sales are direct to customers, we also sell our sensors through an international distribution network. We believe these distributors enable us to reach more end customers in an operationally efficient manner. We plan to grow our existing network and establish new distribution partnerships in regions where we do not currently have partnerships. By leveraging these relationships, we believe we will be able to reach more customers faster and rapidly grow our sales.
Expand our partner ecosystem
Effectively integrating and using a lidar sensor can be a complex task for some end customers. An ecosystem of value-added software and integrator companies is growing across the world, offering perception software and tailored solutions for our target markets. We have relationships with many of these companies, and have collaborated with some of them to develop software and services based on our sensors. In collaboration with our value-added software and integrator partners, we intend to further develop complementary solutions and integration services that we believe will give us access to customers seeking out technical know-how and we expect that this will accelerate our sales growth.
Pursue strategic acquisitions
We may pursue acquisitions as a means to complement our technology and digital lidar architecture if they represent a strategic fit and are consistent with our overall growth strategy. For example, in October 2021, we completed the acquisition of Sense and formally established Ouster Automotive, a new functional division of the Company focusing on driving mass-market adoption of digital lidar in consumer and commercial vehicles. While we see significant and growing demand for our products today, we believe such acquisitions can create more expansive use cases for our products, provide greater access to our current target markets, or enable us to access additional markets.
We have invested significant time in streamlining our production process. Our optical alignment processes are partially or completely automated, which reduces manufacturing time and increases our production output. Our sensors also undergo an application-focused final test, which allows us to understand the real-world performance of our sensors before they are shipped to customers, reducing returned merchandise costs. Ouster has also invested in building manufacturing process control systems. Today, we have real-time manufacturing visibility on every sensor produced in Thailand due to our integrated data stores and dashboards. All of this results in lowered labor and overhead cost per unit, with repeatable, scalable, and predictable quality.
Benchmark Manufacturing Services Agreement
In March 2018, we entered into a manufacturing services agreement with Benchmark, pursuant to which Benchmark has agreed to provide certain manufacturing and related services for the production of our digital lidar sensors, including procuring materials and assembling and testing finished products.
The initial term of the agreement expired in March 2020, but the term of the agreement automatically extends for additional one-year periods until either we or Benchmark provide notice of non-renewal at least 90 days prior to the end of the then-current term or extension. Among other things, either party may terminate the agreement for convenience upon one-year notice to the other party. Either party may also terminate the agreement under certain other customary conditions, including for uncured breaches of the agreement or if the other party if the other party materials breaches the agreement or in the event of the other party’s insolvency.
In connection with the services provided under the agreement, we have agreed to indemnify Benchmark against certain claims, including infringement of third-party intellectual property rights and noncompliance of our products with safety or other regulations.
The market for lidar solutions for autonomous applications is an emerging market, with many potential applications in the development stage. As a result, we face competition from a range of companies developing lidar solutions for incorporation into these developing applications, some of which may be similar to ours. Additionally, some of our targeted customers may have their own internal lidar development programs. Although we believe our digital solutions and innovation support our position as a market leader, we have and will continue to face competition from existing competitors and new companies developing lidar solutions for the industrial, smart infrastructure, robotics and automotive industries.
Although we may encounter companies that are independently developing lidar solutions, we believe we compete favorably on the basis of the simplified and flexible digital architecture of our product design, our comparatively low customization costs, our commercial traction, and our comprehensive suite of patented technology. Additionally, we expect our product costs per unit to continue to decrease over time as production volume expands.
Sales And Marketing
We maintain a global sales presence and sell directly to the majority of our customers. We have grown our commercial team across the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia and Pacific markets and brought on experienced leaders to develop a focused sales organization geared towards ramping our sales pipeline. We plan to continue expanding our sales and marketing efforts to attract new customers and grow orders from existing customers. Members of our sales team typically focus most of their effort in one of our target markets, allowing them to learn from customers and gain subject matter expertise.
While we maintain direct relationships with the majority of our customers, we have also developed a global network of active direct dealers and distributors to sell, install and support our solutions. We collect feedback directly from our customers to generate insights that drive our business and products. We will continue to expand and optimize our dealer network to ensure that we have sufficient geographic coverage across both existing and new markets.
We take a targeted marketing approach to each of our four focused markets. We develop and publish digital content designed to educate and equip our audience to use Ouster’s products, and selectively use other digital channels and advertising to attract customers. We leverage opportunities to present and speak at market-specific conferences, executive events, trade shows and industry events to further develop our brand and reputation. These opportunities also allow us to showcase our technology and attract additional customer interest. From time to time, we sponsor universities and other non-profit organizations to increase awareness of our technology and showcase its capabilities.
Research and Development
We have invested significant resources into research and development of our lidar-based technologies. We believe our ability to maintain a leadership position depends in part on our ongoing research and development activities.
Our research and development activities are primarily based in San Francisco, California, and Edinburgh, Scotland. Our research and development team is responsible for the design, development, manufacturing and testing of our products. We focus our efforts on the development of digital lidar technology, software functionality, solutions, and innovative manufacturing technologies. The research and development team also partners with our operations and supply chain teams to develop scalable and reliable manufacturing processes and aid in supply chain planning and diversification. Our team consists of engineers, technicians, scientists, operators and professionals with experience from a wide variety of the world’s leading sensing, engineering, consumer electronics, and automotive organizations.
We believe our success, competitive advantages, and growth prospects depend in part upon our ability to develop and protect our core technology and intellectual property. We have built a portfolio of intellectual property, including issued patents and registered trademarks, copyrights, confidential technical information, and expertise in the development of lidar technology and software.
Our digital technology is backed by a comprehensive suite of patent protections. We own numerous issued patents and pending patent applications. As of December 31, 2021, we held more than 50 U.S. patents, and 19 foreign patents in Australia, China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. The earliest of our patents are expected to expire in 2036. Our patents contain a broad range of claims related to devices and methods for implementing digital lidar, among other things. Our patents cover our micro-optic technology that enables improved digital lidar performance; our digital lidar architecture combining VSCELs and SPADs; our data processing circuits for in-silicon digital signal processing; and our lidar-camera convergence, combining active and passive sensing technologies. We believe these technology breakthroughs are central to our competitive advantage and dramatically improve sensor performance while making our approach difficult to replicate.
We have filed patent and trademark applications in order to further secure these rights and strengthen our ability to defend against third parties who may infringe on our rights. We also rely on trade secrets, design and manufacturing know-how, and continuing technological innovations to maintain and improve our competitive position. Additionally, we protect our proprietary rights through agreements with our commercial partners, supply-chain vendors, employees, and consultants, as well as close monitoring of the developments and products in the industry.
In addition to actively seeking patent protection covering inventions originating from us, from time to time, we review opportunities to acquire or in-license patents to the extent we believe such patents may be useful or relevant to our business. We currently have an exclusive license to over 250 patents and patent applications worldwide.
As a lidar technology company, we are subject to the Electronic Product Radiation Control Provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. These requirements are enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). Electronic product radiation includes laser technology. Regulations governing these products are intended to protect the public from hazardous or unnecessary exposure. Manufacturers are required to certify in product labeling and reports to the FDA that their products comply with applicable performance standards as well as maintain manufacturing, testing and distribution records for their products. Furthermore, we are also subject to similar internationally harmonized standards and regulations governing the safe use of laser products. Based upon successful evaluations of the applicable laser products, followed by written attestation by international third-party certification agencies, manufacturers are required to create Self Declarations of Compliance (“SDOC”) of their products to such regulations, and label their products accordingly.
Our products and solutions are also subject to U.S. and foreign trade and customs product classifications, including the U.S. Export Administration Regulations, U.S. Customs regulations and various economic and trade sanctions regulations administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls. U.S. export control laws and regulations and economic sanctions prohibit the shipment of certain products and services to countries, governments, and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions. Similarly, we are also subject to sourcing regulations such as the requirements under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation 2017/821, that will require us to carefully monitor our supply chain. The implementation of these requirements could adversely affect the sourcing, availability and pricing of the materials that may be used in the manufacture of components used in our products.
Our customers may use our products in applications that are regulated and/or subject to industry standards. Such applications require that our products comply with the applicable regulations and standards, including, but not limited to, functional safety, cybersecurity, product safety and product performance standards. For example, we continue to add features to our existing OS line, and we expect to design, engineer and test our new DF product line, to meet evolving U.S. and international consumer product safety and performance requirements as well as Automotive and Industrial Functional Safety, Cybersecurity and performance certifications designed to ensure the safe deployment and operation of autonomous vehicles, automotive ADAS, industrial machines and robots. Significant foreign markets also continue to develop their own respective standards to define deployment requirements for higher levels of autonomy in these jurisdictions.
Finally, our operations are subject to various federal, state and local laws and regulations governing the occupational health and safety of our employees and wage regulations. We are subject to the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, as amended, and comparable state laws that protect and regulate employee health and safety.
Like all companies operating in similar industries, we are subject to environmental regulation, including water use; air emissions; use of recycled materials; energy sources; the storage, handling, treatment, transportation and disposal of hazardous materials; and the remediation of environmental contamination. Compliance with these laws, rules and regulations may include permits, licenses and inspections of our facilities and products.
Human Capital Management
As of December 31, 2021, we employed approximately 217 people on a full-time basis in the United States and 61 people on a full-time basis internationally, either directly through our international subsidiaries or through a professional employer organization. We employ approximately 113 engineers and technical talent, and we are continuing to look to significantly expand our technical employee count in order to meet our product development goals. We also engage numerous consultants and contractors to supplement our permanent workforce. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered by collective bargaining agreements. We believe we have strong and positive relations with our employees.
Diversity and Inclusion. To attract, motivate and retain a highly-skilled workforce throughout our organization, we are committed to having a safe and inclusive environment that leverages the capabilities of our employees and encourages diversity of thought. In furtherance of these objectives, we provide Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging training for our employees to promote a healthy and inclusive organizational culture.
Employee engagement. We prioritize employee engagement and value employee feedback, which we gauge notably through an annual employee engagement survey which allows us to monitor both engagement and satisfaction and provides an additional reference point for evaluating initiatives to enhance our employees’ experience.
Compensation and Benefits. We offer competitive compensation and benefit packages, which may include depending on location and eligibility, annual bonuses, paid time-off, 401(k) and Company match up to 4% (subject to the IRS annual limit), stock awards, purchase plans, health and wellness programs and other benefits. Our long-term equity compensation is intended to align management interests with those of our stockholders and to encourage the creation of long-term value.
CLA, the Company’s legal predecessor, was originally a blank check company incorporated as a Cayman Islands exempted company on June 4, 2020. CLA was formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses. In March, 2021, CLA reincorporated in Delaware and consummated a merger with OTI pursuant to an Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of December 21, 2020. OTI was incorporated in the state of Delaware on June 30, 2015.
Our Internet address is https://ouster.com. At our Investor Relations website, https://investors.ouster.com, we make available free of charge a variety of information for investors, including our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file that material with or furnish it to the SEC. The information found on our website is not part of this or any other report we file with, or furnish to, the SEC.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Our business involves significant risks, some of which are described below. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risk and uncertainties that we are unaware of
or that we deem immaterial may also become important factors that adversely affect our business. The realization of any of these risks and uncertainties could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business, financial condition, results of operations, growth and future prospects as well as our ability to accomplish our strategic objectives. In that event, the market price of our common stock could decline and you could lose part or all of your investment.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
Our limited operating history makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and the risks and challenges we may encounter.
Our company has a limited operating history, having been in operation since 2015. Our limited operating history makes it difficult for us to evaluate our future prospects. Certain factors that could alone or in combination prevent us from successfully commercializing our products include:
•our reliance on third parties to supply significant parts of our production process or to manufacture our products;
•our ability to establish and maintain successful relationships with our suppliers or manufacturers;
•our ability to achieve commercial scale production of our products on a cost-effective basis and in a timely manner;
•our ability to successfully expand our product offerings;
•our ability to develop and protect intellectual property;
•our ability to gain market acceptance of our products with customers and maintain and expand customer relationships, whether through strategic customer agreements or otherwise;
•the adaptability of our products and the ability of our customers to integrate our products into their products in a timely and effective manner;
•the actions of direct and indirect competitors that may seek to enter the markets in which we expect to compete or that may seek to impose barriers to one or more markets that we intend to target;
•the long-lead time for development of market opportunities, for which we are only at an early stage of development;
•our ability to forecast our revenue and budget for, and manage, our expenses;
•our ability to comply with existing and new or modified laws and regulations applicable to our business, or laws and regulations applicable to our customers for applications in which they may use our products;
•our ability to plan for and manage capital expenditures for our current and future products, and manage our supply chain and supplier relationships related to these current and future products;
•our ability to anticipate and respond to macroeconomic changes and changes in the markets in which we operate and expect to operate;
•our ability to maintain and enhance the value of our reputation and brand;
•our ability to effectively manage our growth and business operations, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business; and
•our ability to recruit and retain talented people at all levels of our organization.
If we fail to understand fully or adequately address the challenges that we are currently encountering or that we may encounter in the future, including those challenges described here and elsewhere in this Part I, Item 1A.“Risk Factors”, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely and materially affected. If the risks and uncertainties that we plan for when operating our business are incorrect or change, or if we fail to manage these risks successfully, our results of operations could differ materially from our expectations and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
We have incurred significant losses to date and may never achieve or sustain profitability.
We have experienced net losses in each year since our inception. In the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, we incurred net losses of $94.0 million and $106.8 million, respectively. We expect these losses to continue for at least the next several years as we expand our product offering and continue to scale our commercial operations and research and development program. As of December 31, 2021, we had an accumulated deficit of $303.4 million. Even if we are able to increase sales of our products, there can be no assurance that we will be commercially successful.
We expect we will continue to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future as we:
•continue to hire additional personnel and make investments in research and development (“R&D”) in order to develop technology and related software;
•increase our sales and marketing functions, including expansion of our customer support and distribution capabilities;
•hire additional personnel to support compliance requirements in connection with being a public company; and
•expand operations and manufacturing.
If our products do not achieve sufficient market acceptance, we will not become profitable. If we fail to become profitable, or if we are unable to fund our continuing losses we may be unable to continue our business operations. There can be no assurance that we will ever achieve or sustain profitability.
If we are unable to overcome our limited sales history and establish and maintain confidence in our long-term business prospects among customers in our target markets or revenue opportunity does not materialize into sales and revenue, then our financial condition, operating results, business prospects and access to capital may suffer materially.
Our company has a limited sales history, as we only commenced selling our first revenue grade products in late 2018. Because of our limited sales history, we have limited experience managing and growing our relationships with existing customers and securing new customers in our target industries.
Our relationships with many of our existing customers are limited as they may not be prepared to select the company as a long-term supplier given our limited operating and sales history. To establish preliminary relationships with certain customers and to build their confidence, we have entered, and may continue to enter, into evaluation agreements, spot buy purchase orders, non-binding letters of intent, and strategic customer agreements. These agreements are largely non-binding, do not include any minimum obligation to purchase any quantities of any products at this time, and do not require that the parties enter into a subsequent definitive, long-term, binding agreements; however, these preliminary agreements assist the company in building confidence with customers if we are able to effectively perform and otherwise maintain positive relationships with them. If we are unable to build confidence with our existing customers, either through these preliminary agreements (due to any failure to enter into or perform under the agreements) or otherwise, or if we are unable secure opportunity from these non-binding agreements, involving strategic customer agreements, we may be unable to produce accurate forecasts and become profitable.
With respect to new customers, they may be less confident in us and less likely to purchase our products because of a lack of awareness about our products. They may also not be convinced that our business will succeed because of the absence of an established sales, service, support, and operating history. To address this, we must, among other activities, grow and improve our marketing capability and brand awareness, which may be costly. These activities may not be effective or could delay our ability to capitalize on the opportunities that we believe are suitable to our technology and products and may prevent us from successfully commercializing our products.
To build and maintain our business, we must maintain confidence in our products, long-term financial viability and business prospects. Failure to establish and maintain customer confidence may also adversely affect our reputation and business among our suppliers, analysts, ratings agencies and other interested parties.
We currently target many customers that are large corporations with substantial negotiating power and exacting product standards. If we are unable to sell our products to these customers, our prospects and results of operations will be adversely affected.
Many of our current and potential customers are large corporations that often possess significant leverage over their suppliers, and can successfully demand contract terms favorable to themselves, such as reserving the right to terminate their supply contracts for convenience. This disparate power has required, and may require in the future, that we accept less favorable contract terms. These large corporations also have exacting technical specifications and requirements that we have been unable to, and may continue to be unable to, meet, thereby precluding our ability to secure sales. Meeting the technical requirements to secure and maintain significant contracts with any of these companies will require a substantial investment of our time and resources, and if we fail to comply with our customers’ technical specifications and standards, we may lose existing and future business. Even when we succeed in securing contracts, these large companies have been and may continue to be uncertain about their technical specifications for our products and terminate our agreement or make a later determination that our products are not satisfactory. We therefore have no assurance that we can establish relationships with these companies, that our products will meet the needs of these or other companies, or that a contract with these companies will culminate in significant or any product sales. Even when we secure agreements with these companies, we may not be effective in negotiating contract terms or managing such relationships, which could adversely affect our future results of operations.
Furthermore, in some instances, these large companies may have internally developed products and solutions that are competitive to our products. These companies may have substantial research and development resources, which may allow them to acquire or develop independently, or in partnership with others, competitive technologies. Such activities may foreclose significant sales opportunities for our products.
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes our future operating results difficult to predict and could cause our operating results to fall below expectations or any guidance we may provide and could cause our stock price to fluctuate or decline.
Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate significantly, which makes it difficult for us to predict our future operating results. Our financial results may fluctuate as a result of a variety of factors, including:
•the timing of ultimate end market and customer adoption of our products and particular versions of our products;
•the varying length of production cycles for our customers to integrate our products into their broader platforms;
•supply chain constraints and considerations and impacts on our costs of goods sold, such as shortages of semiconductor chips;
•our product mix and average selling prices, including negotiated selling prices and long-term strategic customer agreements;
•the cost of raw materials or supplied components critical for the manufacture of our products;
•the timing and cost of, and level of investment in, research and development relating to our digital lidar technology and related software;
•developments involving our competitors;
•changes in governmental regulations affecting us or applications in which our customers use our products;
•future accounting pronouncements or changes in our accounting policies;
•the impact of epidemics or pandemics, including current business disruption and related financial impact resulting from the global COVID-19 health crisis; and
•general market conditions and other factors, including factors unrelated to our operating performance or the operating performance of our competitors.
Many of these factors are outside of our control and may not fully reflect the underlying performance of our business. The individual or cumulative effects of factors discussed above could result in large fluctuations and unpredictability in our quarterly and annual operating results. As a result, comparing our operating results on a period-to-period basis may not be meaningful.
This variability and unpredictability could also result in our failing to meet the expectations of industry or financial analysts or investors for any period. If our revenue or operating results fall below the expectations of analysts or investors or below any guidance we may provide, or if the guidance we provide is below the expectations of analysts or investors, the price of our common stock could decline substantially. Such a stock price decline could occur even when we have met any previously publicly stated guidance we may provide.
We are subject to the risks of cancellation or postponement of our contracts with customers or unsuccessful implementation.
We have experienced, and may experience in the future, unexpected cancellations of major purchases of our products, which has affected and in the future may adversely affect our results of operations. Prospective customers across our target markets generally must make significant commitments of resources to test and validate our products and confirm that they can be integrated with other technologies before including them in any particular system, product or model. The development cycles of our products with new customers vary widely depending on the application, market, customer and the complexity of the product. In our target markets, development cycles can be six months to seven or more years. These development cycles require us to invest our resources prior to realizing any revenue from the commercialization. Further, we are also subject to the risk that a customer may cancel or postpone implementation of its technology, as well as that it will not be able to integrate its technology successfully into a larger system with other sensing modalities. Our revenue growth may be impaired if the system, product or vehicle model that includes our digital lidar sensors is unsuccessful, including for reasons unrelated to our technology. Long development cycles and product cancellations or postponements may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Market adoption of lidar remains uncertain, and it is difficult to forecast long-term end-customer adoption rates and demand for our products.
Substantially all of our revenue is generated by the sale of our digital lidar sensors. Given the evolving nature of the markets in which we operate, it is difficult to predict the customer demand or adoption rates for lidar technology generally or our products specifically. If demand does not develop or if we cannot accurately forecast customer demand, our future financial results, business, results of operations and financial condition will be adversely affected. If prospective customers have a negative perception of, or experience with, lidar or a competitor’s lidar products they may be reluctant to adopt lidar in general or specifically our products. Any negative publicity, regardless of its accuracy, could materially adversely affect our business.
Additionally, existing non-lidar technologies may emerge as customers’ preferred alternative to lidar and may adversely affect adoption of our lidar solutions and of lidar generally. Significant developments in alternative technologies, such as cameras and radar, may materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results in ways we do not currently anticipate. Any failure by us or the lidar market generally to develop new or enhanced technologies or processes, or to react to changes in existing technologies, could adversely affect adoption of lidar and sales of our current products or materially delay development and introduction of new and enhanced products, which could result in the loss of competitiveness of our products, decreased revenue and a loss of market share to competitors.
We are pursuing opportunities in markets that involve novel applications that are rapidly evolving, and that include both technological and regulatory uncertainties, making it difficult to predict the size and timing of market opportunities. For example, autonomous driving and lidar-based ADAS applications require complex technology and rigorous safety controls. Because these automotive systems are both themselves complex, and also depend on complex technologies from many suppliers, commercialization of autonomous driving or ADAS products could be delayed or impaired on account of technological capabilities that are not sufficiently advanced for deployment in vehicles. These standards may never be met at all. Additionally, ADAS has yet to, and may never, achieve widespread adoption, which would reduce demand for lidar in that market. These same concerns are also applicable to the robotics, industrial and smart infrastructure markets that we are targeting for use of our products.
Although we currently have contracts with numerous commercial customers across diverse markets, these customers may not be able to utilize our technology in the foreseeable future, or at all. Regulatory, safety or reliability developments, many of which are outside of our control, could also cause delays or otherwise impair commercial adoption of these new technologies, which will adversely affect our growth. Our future financial performance will depend on our ability to make timely investments in the correct market opportunities in this environment.
Many of our customers are still in the testing and development phases of applications with our products and it cannot be certain that they will commercialize products or systems with our digital lidar sensors or at all. We believe adoption of lidar products, including our digital lidar sensors, will depend on numerous factors, including: whether the technological capabilities of lidar and lidar-based products meet users’ current or anticipated needs; whether the benefits of designing lidar into larger sensing systems outweigh the costs, complexity and time needed to deploy such technology or replace or modify existing systems that may have used other modalities such as cameras and radar; whether users in other applications can move beyond the testing and development phases and proceed to commercializing systems supported by lidar technology and whether lidar developers can keep pace with rapid technological change in certain developing markets. If lidar technology generally does not achieve commercial success or if the market develops at a pace slower than we expect, our business, results of operation and financial condition will be materially and adversely affected.
If we are not able to effectively grow our global sales and marketing organization, or maintain or grow an effective network of distributors, software value add resellers, and integrators, our business prospects, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.
In order to generate future sales growth, we will need to expand the size and geographic coverage of our field organization, including marketing, direct sales, customer support and technical services. Accordingly, our future success will depend largely on our ability to hire, train, retain, and motivate skilled regional sales managers and direct sales representatives with significant technical knowledge and understanding of our products. Because of the competition for their skill set, we may not be able to attract or retain such personnel on reasonable terms, if at all. If we are unable to grow our global sales and marketing organization, we may not be able to increase our revenue, which would adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Additionally, we rely on a network of independent distributors to help generate sales of our products internationally. If a dispute arises with a distributor or if we terminate our relationship with a distributor or a distributor goes out of business, it may take time to identify an alternative distributor, to train new personnel to market our products, and our ability to sell those products in a region formerly serviced by a terminated distributor could be harmed. In addition, our distributors may not successfully market and sell our products and may not devote sufficient time and resources that we believe are necessary to enable our products to develop, achieve or sustain market acceptance. Any of these factors could reduce our revenue or impair our revenue growth in affected markets, increase our costs in those markets or damage our reputation. In
addition, if an independent distributor were to depart and be retained by one of our competitors, we may be unable to prevent that distributor from soliciting business from our existing customers, which could further adversely affect us. As a result of our reliance on third-party distributors, we may be subject to disruptions and increased costs due to factors beyond our control, including labor strikes, third-party errors and other issues. If the services of any of these third-party distributors become unsatisfactory, we may experience delays in meeting our customers’ demands and we may be unable to find a suitable replacement on a timely basis or on commercially reasonable terms. Any failure to deliver products in a timely manner may damage our reputation and could cause us to lose potential customers.
We expect to incur substantial R&D costs and devote significant resources to developing and commercializing new products, which could significantly affect our ability to become profitable and may never result in revenue to us. Any delay or interruption of the development and commercialization of new products may adversely affect our existing business and prospects for winning future business.
Our future growth depends on penetrating new markets, adapting existing products to new applications and customer requirements, and introducing new and effective products on a timely basis that then achieve market acceptance. To remain competitive, we are developing a suite of new products, including our DF solid-state lidar sensor and a software solution that is complementary to our existing and future hardware. In connection with the development of the DF solid-state lidar sensor, complementary software, and other R&D for new products and product enhancements to be performed by the company, we plan to incur substantial, and potentially increasing, R&D costs. Our R&D expenses were $34.6 million and $23.3 million during the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively, and are likely to grow in the future. Because we account for R&D as an operating expense, these expenditures will adversely affect our results of operations in the future.
Further, our R&D program may be delayed and may not produce timely results. If we cannot produce successful results in time to accommodate customers’ or potential customers’ development timelines, we may lose business. If we are unsuccessful in introducing these products in accordance with our product launch plans or any publicly announced launch dates, it may be injurious to our reputation and brand and adversely affect our ability to be competitive in our target and new markets.
We expect to rely on products we are currently developing, such as our DF solid-state lidar and our software solutions, for a significant portion of our future growth; however, even if our R&D efforts are successful and completed on time, there is no guarantee that we will be successful in adapting our business to our new products or that our new products will achieve market acceptance or generate sufficient revenue to make us profitable. Our future products, such as any software solutions we develop, may be products we have limited or no experience commercializing. In launching such products, we may face foreseen and unforeseen difficulties that adversely affect such the commercialization and could have a material adverse effect on our operations and business. Additionally, the success of our competitors’ R&D efforts, including producing higher performing products or providing products competitive to our new products to our customers before us, may result in loss of business to us.
The promise of new products and successful R&D may even decrease our expected and actual revenue attributable to existing products, as historically, customers have delayed or cancelled outstanding purchasing commitments for current generation products in anticipation of the release of new generation products from the company. There is no guarantee that these delays and cancellations will not occur again in the future as we develop, announce and commercialize new products like our DF solid-state lidar sensor or our complementary software solutions.
We compete against established market participants that have substantially greater resources than us and against known and unknown market entrants who may disrupt our target markets.
Our target markets are highly competitive and we may not be able to compete effectively in the market against these competitors. Competitors may offer lidar products at lower prices than ours, including pricing that we believe is below their cost, or may offer superior performing lidar products. These companies also compete with us indirectly by attempting to solve some of the same challenges with different technology. Established competitors in the market for lidar sensors have significantly greater resources and more experience than we do. These competitors have commercialized lidar technology that has achieved market adoption, strong brand recognition and may continue to improve in both anticipated and unanticipated ways. They may also have entered into commercial relationships with key customers and have built relationships and dependencies between themselves and those key customers.
In addition to the established market competitors, new competitors may be preparing to enter or are entering the lidar market that may disrupt the commercial landscape of target markets in ways that we may not be able to prepare for—including customers of lidar who may be developing their own competitive solutions. We do not know how close any of our current and potential competitors are to commercializing their lidar products and services, nor what they intend to develop as part of their product roadmaps. The already competitive landscape of the lidar market, along with both
foreseeable and unforeseeable entries of competitors and lidar technology from those competitors in our target markets, may result in pricing pressure, reduced margins and may impede our ability to increase the sales of our products or cause us to lose market share, any of which will adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If our products are not selected for inclusion in our target markets, our business will be materially and adversely affected.
Although our products are designed for use in multiple markets, each of our target or new markets may have unique barriers to entry. If we are unsuccessful in overcoming these barriers, it may affect our entrance into these target or new markets which could adversely affect our future results of operations.
Our products are used in a wide variety of existing and emerging use cases in the industrial market, where our target customers are generally engaged in the manufacturing, operation, or after-market modification of heavy industrial machinery. These tend to be large companies that move slowly to larger scale production, often with years-long timelines. If our products are not chosen for deployment in these projects, or we lose a program under any circumstances, we may not have an opportunity to obtain that business again for many years. Industrial automation is a demanding industry with product specifications that our products may not always meet.
Our products also are used in a wide variety of existing and emerging use cases in the smart infrastructure market, which generally consists of public bodies and private commercial businesses engaging in the monitoring and analysis of pedestrian and vehicle movements for the purpose of providing building security, improving road user safety, and increasing roadway efficiency. This is a nascent market, and while this industry is experimenting with the use of lidar in these applications, our customers may decide that lidar is not a feasible solution for one of a variety of reasons, including current price points of lidar sensors. Customers in this market are often local governments, such as city governments, which may be subject to political pressures, and may not control their own budgets. For example, programs could be cancelled due to legislative action that is out of a local government’s control.
Our products also are used in a wide variety of existing and emerging use cases in the robotics market, in which our customers are generally engaged in the design, production, operation, or after-market modification of small mobile human-less vehicles. This is a competitive market that often has strict functional and pricing requirements for products. If we are unable to make products that meet these requirements, or sell products at the required price point, we could lose this business to competitors or competitive technologies. There are diverse and potentially conflicting requirements across the robotics industry that may force us to prioritize certain segments over others, resulting in a lower total available market. Our target markets involve risks of program delay, loss, and cancellation.
Our products also may be purchased by automotive OEMs and their suppliers in connection with their design and development of autonomous driving and ADAS technology. These programs are time and resource intensive, requiring thousands of man hours and several years. Automotive OEMs and suppliers undertake extensive testing or qualification processes prior to placing orders for large quantities of products such as ours, because such products will function as part of a larger system or platform and must meet certain other specifications. We spend significant time and resources to pursue the business of having our products selected by automotive OEMs and their suppliers for use in the manufacture of a particular vehicle model. Because we do not have long-term, binding relationships with Tier 1s, automotive OEMs may be less inclined to select our products for use in their vehicle models. If we are not chosen to supply products for a particular vehicle model, we may not have an opportunity to supply our products to that automotive OEM for that vehicle model for a period of many years, perhaps as long as five to seven or more years. If our products are not selected by an automotive OEM or its suppliers for one vehicle model or if our products are not successful in that vehicle model, it is less likely that our products will be deployed in other vehicle models of that OEM. If we fail to win a significant number of vehicle models from one or more of automotive OEMs or their suppliers, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected.
We may need to raise additional capital in the future in order to execute our business plan, which may not be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.
In the future we may require additional capital to respond to technological advancements, competitive dynamics or technologies, customer demands, business opportunities, challenges, acquisitions or unforeseen circumstances and we may determine to engage in equity or debt financings or enter into credit facilities for other reasons. In order to stay on our growth trajectory and further business relationships with current or potential customers or partners, or for other reasons, we may issue equity or equity-linked securities to such current or potential customers or partners. We may not be able to timely secure additional debt or equity financing on favorable terms, or at all. If we raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or convertible debt or other equity-linked securities or if it issues equity or equity-linked securities to current or potential customers to further business relationships, our existing stockholders could experience significant dilution. Any debt financing obtained by us in the future could involve restrictive covenants relating to our capital raising
activities and other financial and operational matters, which may make it more difficult for us to obtain additional capital and to pursue business opportunities, including potential acquisitions. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing or financing on terms satisfactory to us, when we require it, our ability to continue to grow or support our business and to respond to business challenges could be significantly limited and our business could be materially and adversely affected.
Key components in our products come from limited or single source third party suppliers, and we expect to rely on third-party to manufacture a significant portion of our products for the foreseeable future. Interruptions in our relationship with these third parties could adversely impact our business.
We rely on third parties to supply key components of our digital lidar sensors and to manufacture a significant portion of our digital liar sensors. In particular, for the year ended December 31, 2021, approximately 67% of our manufacturing output was provided through our relationship with Benchmark Electronics, Inc. (“Benchmark”), a percentage which we expect will increase over time as we scale our operations. We have also outsourced much of our transportation and logistics management. These arrangements are intended to lower our operating costs, but they also reduce our direct control over production and distribution. This diminished control may have an adverse effect on the quality or quantity of products or services, or our flexibility to respond to changing conditions. If Benchmark or any of our third-party component suppliers or logistics and transportation partners experience interruptions, delays or disruptions in supplying their products or services, including by natural disasters, the global COVID-19 pandemic, other health epidemics and outbreaks, or work stoppages or capacity constraints, our ability to ship products to distributors and customers may be delayed. In addition, unfavorable economic conditions could result in financial distress among third-party suppliers or manufacturers upon which we rely, thereby increasing the risk of disruption of supplies necessary to fulfill our production requirements and meet customer demands. Additionally, if any of these third parties on whom we rely were to experience quality control problems in their operations and our products do not meet customer or regulatory requirements, we could be required to cover the cost of repair or replacement of any defective products. These delays or product quality issues could have an immediate and material adverse effect on our ability to fulfill orders and could have a negative effect on our operating results. In addition, such delays or issues with product quality could adversely affect our reputation and our relationship with our customers, distributors, value added software resellers, and integrators.
If these third parties experience financial, operational, manufacturing capacity or other difficulties, or experience shortages in required components, or if they are otherwise unable or unwilling to continue to manufacture our products in required volumes or at all, our supply may be disrupted, we may be required to seek alternate manufacturers and we may be required to re-design our products. It would be time-consuming, and could be costly and impracticable, to begin to use new manufacturers, components or designs, and such changes could cause significant interruptions in supply and could have an adverse effect on our ability to meet our scheduled product deliveries and may subsequently lead to the loss of sales. While we take measures to protect our trade secrets, the use of third-party suppliers and manufacturers may also risk disclosure of our innovative and proprietary manufacturing methodologies, which could adversely affect our business.
We believe there are a limited number of competent, high-quality suppliers in the industry that meet our strict quality and control standards, and as we seek to obtain additional or alternative supplier arrangements in the future, there can be no assurance that we would be able to do so on satisfactory terms, in a timely manner, or at all. Our suppliers could also discontinue or modify components used in our products. In some cases, the lead times associated with certain components are lengthy and preclude rapid changes in quantities and delivery schedules. We may in the future experience component shortages and price fluctuations of certain key components and materials, and the predictability of the availability and pricing of these components may be limited. Component shortages or pricing fluctuations could be material in the future. In the event of a component shortage, supply interruption or material pricing change from suppliers of these components, we may not be able to develop alternate sources in a timely manner or at all in the case of sole or limited sources. Developing alternate sources of supply for these components may be time-consuming, difficult, and costly and we may not be able to source these components on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all, which may undermine our ability to meet our requirements or to fill customer orders in a timely manner. Any interruption or delay in the supply of any of these parts or components, or the inability to obtain these parts or components from alternate sources at acceptable prices and within a reasonable amount of time, would adversely affect our ability to meet our scheduled product deliveries to our customers. This could adversely affect our relationships with customers and distributors and could cause delays in shipment of our products and adversely affect our operating results. In addition, increased component costs could result in lower gross margins. Even where we are able to pass increased component costs along to our customers, there may be a lapse of time before it is possible to do so, such that we must absorb the increased cost. If we are unable to buy these components in quantities sufficient to meet our requirements on a timely basis, we will not be able to deliver our products to our customers, and cause our customers to use competitors’ products instead of ours.
An interruption in, or the loss of operations at, one or more of our suppliers’ facilities or at Benchmark’s facility, which may be caused by work stoppages, disease outbreaks or pandemics, acts of war, terrorism, fire, earthquakes, flooding or other natural disasters at one or more of these facilities, could delay, postpone or reduce production of some of our
products, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition until such time as such interruption is resolved or an alternate source of production is secured.
Outsourcing a substantial percentage of our manufacturing outside of the United States involves certain risks or may not be successful, which could harm our ability to deliver products and recognize revenue.
Historically, we manufactured all of our digital sensors at our facility in San Francisco, California. We intend to maintain a portion of our manufacturing at this facility; however, in 2019, we began moving a portion of our manufacturing operations to a manufacturing facility in Thailand in connection with our relationship with Benchmark, which for the year ended December 31, 2021, accounted for a majority of our manufacturing output. Any substantial delay in bringing this facility up to full production on our current schedule may hinder our ability to produce all of the products needed to meet orders and/or achieve our expected financial performance. Opening this facility has required, and will continue to require, additional capital expenditures and the efforts and attention of our management and other personnel, which has and will continue to divert resources from our existing business or operations. If and when this manufacturing facility is brought up to full production according to our current schedule, it may not provide us with all of the operational and financial benefits we expect to receive.
We have invested in manufacturing process equipment which is held at Benchmark’s facility, and we may make prepayments to some of our suppliers associated with long-term supply agreements. While these arrangements help ensure the supply of components and finished goods, if our co-manufacturer or suppliers experience severe financial problems or other disruptions in their business, such continued supply would be reduced or terminated, and the recoverability of manufacturing process equipment or prepayments would be negatively impacted.
Additionally, manufacturing outside the United States is subject to several inherent risks, including:
•foreign currency fluctuations;
•local economic conditions;
•import or export requirements;
•foreign government regulatory requirements;
•stricter lockdown measures in some countries aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19;
•reduced protection for intellectual property rights in some countries;
•tariffs and other trade barriers and restrictions; and
•potentially adverse tax consequences.
We are exposed to the risk of write-downs on the value of our inventory and other assets, in addition to purchase commitment cancellation risk.
We record a write-down for product and component inventories that have become obsolete or exceed anticipated demand, or for which cost exceeds net realizable value. We also accrue necessary cancellation fee reserves for orders of excess products and components. We review long-lived assets, including capital assets held at our suppliers’ facilities, for impairment whenever events or circumstances indicate the assets may not be recoverable. If we determine that an impairment has occurred, we record a write-down equal to the amount by which the carrying value of the asset exceeds its fair value. Although we believe our inventory, capital assets, and other assets and purchase commitments are currently recoverable, no assurance can be given that we will not incur write-downs, fees, impairments and other charges given the rapid and unpredictable pace of product obsolescence in the industries in which we compete.
We order components for our products and build inventory in advance of product manufacturing and shipments. Manufacturing purchase obligations cover our forecasted component and manufacturing requirements, typically for periods up to three months. Because our target markets are volatile, competitive and subject to rapid technology and price changes, and because we have limited sales history, there is a risk we will forecast incorrectly and order or produce excess or insufficient amounts of components or products, or not fully utilize firm our purchase commitments.
Our forecasts of market growth may not be accurate.
Market opportunity estimates and growth forecasts included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our other public disclosures are subject to significant uncertainty and are based on assumptions and estimates that may not prove to be accurate. The forecasts and estimates relating to the expected size and growth of the markets for lidar-based technology may prove to be inaccurate. Even if these markets experience the forecasted growth , we may not grow our business at similar rates, or at all. Our future growth is subject to many factors, including market adoption of our products, which is subject to many risks and uncertainties. Accordingly, the forecasts and estimates of market size and growth described in
this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our other public disclosures, should not be taken as indicative of our future growth. In addition, these forecasts do not take into account the impact of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, and we have no assurances that these forecasts will not be materially and adversely affected as a result.
We may experience difficulties in managing our growth and expanding our operations.
We expect to experience significant growth in the scope and nature of our operations. Our ability to manage our operations and future growth will require us to continue to improve our operational, financial and management controls, compliance programs and reporting systems. We are currently in the process of strengthening our compliance programs, including our compliance programs related to product certifications, quality management systems certifications, environmental certifications, export controls, privacy and cybersecurity and anti-corruption. We may not be able to implement improvements in an efficient or timely manner and may discover deficiencies in existing controls, programs, systems and procedures, which could have an adverse effect on our business, reputation and financial results. Additionally, rapid growth in our business may place a strain on our human and capital resources. Furthermore, we expect to continue to conduct our business internationally and anticipate increased business operations in the United States, Europe, Asia and elsewhere. These diversified, global operations place increased demands on our limited resources and require us to substantially expand the capabilities of our administrative and operational resources and to attract, train, manage and retain qualified management, technical, manufacturing, engineering, sales and other personnel. As our operations expand domestically and internationally, we will need to continue to manage multiple locations and additional relationships with various customers, partners, suppliers and other third parties across several markets.
We are focusing our current commercial efforts across four distinct target markets. We will be required to prioritize our limited financial and managerial resources as we pursue particular development and commercialization efforts in each target market. Any resources we expend on one or more of these efforts could be at the expense of other potentially profitable opportunities.
We do not currently have long-term, committed supply contracts with many of our suppliers. Loss of one or more of these suppliers or our inability to identify and establish relationships with new suppliers could harm our business and impede our growth.
Because of the absence of long-term supply contracts, any of these suppliers could seek to alter or terminate its relationship with us at any time, leaving us with periods during which we have limited or no ability to manufacture our products. The production of our products is dependent on producing or sourcing certain key components, including semiconductor chips, and raw materials at acceptable price levels. If we are unable to adequately reduce and control the costs of such key components, we will be unable to realize manufacturing costs targets, which could reduce the market adoption of our products, damage our reputation with current or prospective customers, and materially and adversely impact our brand, business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.
If we do not maintain sufficient inventory or if we do not adequately manage our inventory, we could lose sales or incur higher inventory-related expenses, which could negatively affect our operating results.
To ensure adequate inventory supply, we forecast inventory needs and expenses, place orders sufficiently in advance with our suppliers and manufacturing partner and manufacture products based on our estimates of future demand for particular products. Fluctuations in the adoption of lidar products may affect our ability to forecast our future operating results, including revenue, gross margins, cash flows and profitability. Our ability to accurately forecast demand for our products could be affected by many factors, including the rapidly changing nature of our current target markets, the uncertainty surrounding the market acceptance and commercialization of lidar technology, the emergence of new markets, an increase or decrease in customer demand for our products or for products and services of our competitors, product introductions by competitors, the COVID-19 pandemic, other health epidemics and outbreaks, and any associated work stoppages or interruptions, unanticipated changes in general market conditions and the weakening of economic conditions or consumer confidence in future economic conditions. We may face challenges acquiring adequate supplies to manufacture our products and we and Benchmark may not be able to manufacture our products at a rate necessary to satisfy the levels of demand, which would negatively affect our short-term and long-term growth. This risk may be exacerbated by the fact that we may not carry or be able to obtain for our suppliers a significant amount of inventory to satisfy short-term demand increases. If we fail to accurately forecast customer demand, we may experience excess inventory levels or a shortage of products available for sale.
Inventory levels in excess of customer demand may result in inventory write-downs or write-offs and the sale of excess inventory at discounted prices, which would adversely affect our financial results, including our gross margin, and have a negative effect on our brand. Conversely, if we underestimate customer demand for our products, we may not be able to deliver products to meet our requirements, and this could result in damage to our brand and customer relationships and adversely affect our revenue and operating results.
Our business could be materially and adversely affected if our customers become unable to, or otherwise do not, pay their invoices.
If one or more of our major customers would be unable to pay our invoices as they become due or a customer simply refuses to make such payments if it experiences financial difficulties, our business would be adversely affected. If a major customer were to enter into bankruptcy proceedings or similar proceedings whereby contractual commitments are subject to stay of execution and the possibility of legal or other modification, we could be forced to record a substantial loss. Additionally, a number of our customers are early stage, startup companies that are privately funded, have limited resources, and do not have a history of creditworthiness that we can audit to determine reliability. They could fail to raise enough capital and have to shut down operations. Even if they are financially solvent and stable and we are successful in securing a commercial relationship with them, their business plans for future programs may be inherently uncertain and unpredictable, and less structured than established companies.
We are exposed to credit risk on our trade accounts receivable, supplier non-trade receivables and prepayments related to long-term supply agreements, and this risk is heightened during periods when economic conditions worsen.
We sell our products directly to small and mid-sized businesses and educational customers. Our outstanding trade receivables are not covered by collateral, third-party bank support or financing arrangements, or credit insurance. Our exposure to credit and collectability risk on our trade receivables is higher in certain international markets and our ability to mitigate such risks may be limited. We also have unsecured supplier non-trade receivables resulting from purchases of components by outsourcing partners and other vendors that manufacture sub-assemblies or assemble final products for us. In addition, from time to time, we may make prepayments associated with long-term supply agreements to secure supply of inventory components. While we are implementing procedures to monitor and limit exposure to credit risk on our trade and supplier non-trade receivables, there can be no assurance such procedures will effectively limit our credit risk and avoid losses.
If we engage in acquisitions to grow our business, we will incur a variety of costs and may potentially face numerous risks that could adversely affect our business and operations and cause our stock price to decline.
If appropriate opportunities become available, we may seek to acquire businesses, assets, technologies or products to enhance our business. For example, in October 2021, we acquired Sense to help us expand our presence in the automotive vertical by executing on our hiring goal product roadmap on a faster timeline. In connection with any acquisitions, we could issue additional equity securities, which would dilute our stockholders, incur substantial debt to fund the acquisitions or assume significant liabilities.
Acquisitions involve many and diverse risks and uncertainties, including problems integrating the purchased operations, assets, technologies or products as well as unanticipated costs, liabilities, and economic, political, legal and regulatory challenges due to our inexperience operating in new regions or countries and we may fail to successfully integrate acquired companies, such as Sense, or retain key personnel from the acquired company. To date, we have limited experience with acquisitions and the integration of acquired technology and personnel. Acquisitions may divert our attention from our core business. Acquisitions may require us to record goodwill and non-amortizable intangible assets that will be subject to testing on a regular basis and potential period impairment charges, incur amortization expenses related to certain intangible assets, and incur write offs and restructuring and other related expenses, any of which could harm our operating results and financial condition.
New business strategies, especially those involving acquisitions, are inherently risky and may not be successful. Failure to successfully identify, complete, manage and integrate acquisitions could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and could cause our stock price to decline.
Our sales and operations in international markets expose us to operational, financial and regulatory risks.
International sales comprise a significant amount of our overall revenue. Sales to international customers accounted for 56% and 56% of our revenue for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively. Growing our international sales is an important part of our growth strategy, but these efforts may not be successful. International operations are subject to a number of other risks, including:
•import and export laws and the impact of tariffs;
•exchange rate fluctuations;
•political and economic instability, war, international terrorism and anti-American sentiment, particularly in emerging markets and the current situation in Russia and Ukraine;
•global or regional health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or other health epidemics and outbreaks;
•potential for violations of anti-corruption laws and regulations, such as those related to bribery and fraud;
•preference for locally branded products, and laws and business practices favoring local competition;
•potential consequences of, and uncertainty related to, the “Brexit” process in the United Kingdom, which could lead to additional expense and complexity in doing business there;
•increased difficulty in managing inventory;
•increased risk in collecting trade receivables;
•delayed revenue recognition;
•less effective protection of intellectual property;
•stringent regulation of the autonomous or other systems or products using our products and stringent consumer protection and product compliance regulations, including but not limited to General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union, European competition law, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and the European Ecodesign Directive that are costly to comply with and may vary from country to country;
•difficulties and costs of staffing and managing foreign operations;
•changes in local tax and customs duty laws or changes in the enforcement, application or interpretation of such laws; and
•U.S. government’s restrictions on certain technology transfer to certain countries of concern.
The occurrence of any of these risks could negatively affect our international business and consequently our business, operating results, and financial condition.
The complexity of our products could result in unforeseen delays or expenses from undetected defects, errors or reliability issues in hardware or software which could reduce the market adoption of our new products, damage our reputation with current or prospective customers, expose us to product liability and other claims and adversely affect our operating costs.
Our products are highly technical and very complex and require high standards to manufacture and have in the past and will likely in the future experience defects, errors or reliability issues at various stages of development. We may be unable to timely release new products, manufacture existing products, correct problems that have arisen or correct such problems to our customers’ satisfaction. Additionally, undetected errors, defects or reliability issues, especially as new products are introduced or as new versions are released, could result in serious injury to the end users of technology incorporating our products, or those in the surrounding area, our customers never being able to commercialize technology incorporating our products, litigation against us, negative publicity and other consequences. These risks are particularly prevalent in the autonomous driving and ADAS markets. Some errors or defects in our products may only be discovered after they have been tested, commercialized and deployed by customers. If that is the case, we may incur significant additional development costs and product recall, repair or replacement costs. These problems may also result in claims, including class actions, against us by our customers or others. Our reputation or brand may be damaged as a result of these problems and customers may be reluctant to buy our products, which could adversely affect our ability to retain existing customers and attract new customers and could adversely affect our financial results.
In addition, we could face material legal claims for breach of contract, product liability, fraud, tort or breach of warranty as a result of these problems. Defending a lawsuit, regardless of its merit, could be costly and may divert management’s attention and adversely affect the market’s perception of us and our products. In addition, our business liability insurance coverage could prove inadequate with respect to a claim and future coverage may be unavailable on acceptable terms or at all. These product-related issues could result in claims against us and our business could be adversely affected.
Our customers use our solutions in autonomous driving and ADAS applications, which present the risk of significant injury, including fatalities. We may be subject to claims if a product using our lidar technology is involved in an accident and persons are injured or purport to be injured. Any insurance that we carry may not be sufficient or it may not apply to all situations. Similarly, our customers could be subjected to claims as a result of such accidents and bring legal claims against us to attempt to hold us liable. In addition, if lawmakers or governmental agencies were to determine that the use of our products or autonomous driving or certain ADAS applications increased the risk of injury to all or a subset of our customers, they may pass laws or adopt regulations that limit the use of our products or increase our liability associated with the use of our products or that regulate the use of or delay the deployment of autonomous driving and ADAS technology. Any of these events could adversely affect our brand, relationships with customers, operating results or financial condition.
We may incur significant direct or indirect liabilities in connection with our product warranties which could adversely affect our business and operating results.
We typically offer a limited product warranty that requires our products to conform to the applicable specifications and be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a limited warranty period. As a result of increased competition and changing standards in our target markets, we may be required to increase our warranty period length and the scope of our warranty. To be competitive, we may be required to implement these increases before we are able to determine the economic impact of an increase. Accordingly, we may be at risk that any such warranty increase could result in foreseeable and unforeseeable losses for the company.
In particular, the usage of our products by target customers could make us liable for warranty claims and pecuniary and reputational damages. In our target markets, our products may be placed in physical locations and environments that present harsh operating conditions, or that present a risk of product damage due to accidents or vandalism. This may result in more product failures than we anticipate, and may require us to provide warranties for our products beyond our knowledge of their performance. This could increase the rate of customer returns and warranty claims, resulting in higher than expected operating costs for us. Product failures may also affect market acceptance of our products and our ability to win future business. Any negative publicity related to the perceived quality of our products could affect our brand image, partner and customer demand, and adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.
Our revenue and margins could be adversely affected if we fail to maintain competitive average selling prices, high sales volumes, and/or fail to reduce product costs.
Cost-cutting initiatives adopted by our customers often place increased downward pressure on our average selling prices. We also expect that any long term or high-volume agreements with customers may require step-downs in pricing over the term of the agreement or, if commercialized, over the period of production. We strive to keep our average selling price competitive and expect to achieve profitability by maintaining competitive average sales prices and through continually lower product costs. Our average selling price may be driven down by customer-specific selling price fluctuations such as non-standard discounts on large volume purchases. These lower average selling prices on large volume purchases may cause fluctuations in revenue and gross margins on a quarterly and annual basis and ultimately adversely affect our profitability. We may also experience declines in the average selling prices of our products generally as our customers seek to commercialize autonomous systems at prices low enough to achieve market acceptance and as our competitors continue to produce and commercialize lower cost competing technologies. To achieve profitability and maintain margins, we will also need to continually reduce product and manufacturing costs. Reductions in product and manufacturing costs are principally achieved by scaling our production volumes and through step changes in manufacturing and continued engineering of the most cost-effective designs for our products. In addition, we must continuously drive initiatives to reduce labor cost, improve worker efficiency, reduce the cost of materials, use fewer materials and further lower overall product costs by carefully managing component prices, inventory and shipping cost. We need to continually increase sales volume and introduce new, lower-cost products in order to maintain our overall gross margin. If we are unable to maintain competitive average selling prices, increase our sales volume or successfully introduce new, low-cost products, our revenue and overall gross margin would likely decline.
Adverse conditions in the industries we target or the global economy more generally could have adverse effects on our results of operations.
While we make our strategic planning decisions based on the assumption that the markets we are targeting will grow, our business is dependent, in large part on, and directly affected by, business cycles and other factors affecting the robotics, industrial automation, smart infrastructure, and transportation industries and global economy generally. Our target markets are highly cyclical and depend on general economic conditions and other factors, including consumer spending and preferences, changes in interest rates and credit availability, consumer confidence, inflation, environmental impact, governmental incentives and regulatory requirements, political volatility, labor relations issues, trade agreements and other factors.
Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
As of December 31, 2021, we had $224.4 million of U.S. federal and $146.8 million of state net operating loss carryforwards available to reduce future taxable income. The $215.9 million in U.S. federal operating loss carryforwards will be carried forward indefinitely for U.S. federal tax purposes. Of our U.S. state net operating loss carryforwards, $146.8 million will begin to expire in 2035. It is possible that we will not generate taxable income in time to use these net operating loss carryforwards before their expiration (or that we will not generate taxable income at all). Under legislative changes made in December 2017, U.S. federal net operating losses incurred in 2018 and in future years may be carried forward indefinitely, but the deductibility of such net operating losses is limited. It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to these in federal tax laws. In addition, the federal and state net operating loss carryforwards and
certain tax credits may be subject to significant limitations under Section 382 and Section 383 of the U.S. Tax Code, respectively, and similar provisions of state law. Under those sections of the U.S. Tax Code, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change attributes, such as research tax credits, to offset its post-change income or tax may be limited. In general, an “ownership change” will occur if there is a cumulative change in our ownership by “5-percent shareholders” that exceeds 50 percentage points over a rolling three-year period. Similar rules may apply under state tax laws. Although the Company has experienced ownership changes since its inception, there has been no limitation or loss of net operating losses or tax credits as of December 31, 2021.
Our future success depends in part on recruiting and retaining key personnel and if we fail to do so, it may be more difficult for us to execute our business strategy. We are currently a small organization and will need to hire additional qualified personnel to effectively implement our strategic plan.
Our success depends on our ability to attract, retain and motivate highly qualified management, technical, manufacturing, engineering and sales personnel. In particular, our success may depend on our ability to recruit and retain management personnel who are qualified to manage a public company. We are highly dependent on our senior management, including our founders, Angus Pacala and Mark Frichtl. If any of such persons left, our business could be harmed. All of our US based employees are “at-will” employees. The loss of the services of one or more of our key employees could delay or have an impact on the successful commercialization of our products. We do not maintain key man insurance.
In addition, our ability to successfully execute on our strategic plan depends in part on our ability to continue to build our organization and hire qualified personnel, especially with engineering, sales, technical, and manufacturing expertise. Competition for qualified personnel is especially severe in the San Francisco Bay Area. We may not be able to attract and retain qualified personnel on acceptable terms given the competition for such personnel. If we are unsuccessful in our recruitment efforts, it may adversely affect our business and our growth prospects.
Some of our employees are employed by professional employer organizations which may have unexpected costs that could adversely impact our business.
We contract with non-US professional employer organizations (“PEOs”), to administer our human resources, payroll and employee benefits functions for some of our subsidiaries’ employees outside of the United States. Although we recruit and select these employees, their employment relationship is with the relevant PEO. Accordingly, these employees are compensated through the PEO, are governed by the work policies created by the PEO and receive their annual wage statements and other payroll-related reports from the PEO. In addition, some of these employees may receive stock compensation directly from the Company. The PEO relationship streamlines hiring and employee maintenance, and enables management to focus on issues other than payroll administration, but this relationship also exposes us to some risks. For example, if the PEO is unable to or otherwise fails to adequately withhold or pay employer taxes or to comply with other applicable laws, we may be held liable for such violations notwithstanding any indemnification provisions provided to us by the PEOs. In certain non-US jurisdictions, despite the PEO relationship, there is a risk that the employee may nonetheless be deemed our direct employee and that the company may be deemed to have a permanent operation in a non-US jurisdiction. Court and administrative proceedings related to matters of employment tax, labor law and other laws applicable to PEO arrangements could distract management from our business and cause us to incur significant expense. If we were held liable for violations by PEOs, such monetary penalties may adversely affect our profitability and could negatively affect our business and results of operations.
Legal and Regulatory Risks Related to Our Business
Our products are frequently used in applications that are subject to evolving regulations and standards.
Our customers may use our products for regulated and standardized applications that require our products to comply with regulations and standards that are applicable to both our products and to those industries and applications, including functional safety and product reliability standards. New regulations and industry standards may be adopted that result in delays or cancellations of programs. If we decide not to pursue or fail to achieve these regulatory or industry certifications, we may lose existing or potential commercial opportunities or be exposed to legal liability from regulators.
We are subject to governmental export and import controls and economic sanctions laws and regulations. Our failure to comply with these laws and regulations could have an adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.
Our products and solutions are subject to certain U.S. and foreign export controls, trade sanctions, and import laws and regulations, including the U.S. Export Administration Regulations, U.S. Customs regulations and various economic and trade sanctions regulations administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls. U.S. export
control laws and regulations and economic sanctions prohibit the shipment of certain products and services to countries, governments, and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions. Even though we take precautions to prevent our productions and solutions from being provided to entities subject to these restrictions, our products could find their way to such prohibited entities. Any such provision could have negative consequences, including government investigations, penalties, or reputational harm.
In addition, complying with export control and sanctions regulations for a particular sale may be time-consuming and create delays in the introduction of our products and solutions in some international markets, and, in some cases, prevent the export of our software and services to some countries altogether. Exports of our products and technology must be made in compliance with these laws and regulations. If a license is required from a government agency prior to sale, no exports may occur until the appropriate approvals are obtained. If we fail to comply with these laws and regulations, penalties could be imposed, including substantial monetary fines and/or denial of export privileges. In addition, in extreme cases responsible employees or managers can be held criminally liable for such violations.
Changes to trade policy, tariffs and import/export regulations may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Any new export or import restrictions, new legislation or shifting approaches in the enforcement or scope of existing regulations, or changes in global, political, regulatory and economic conditions affecting U.S. trade, manufacturing, development or investment, could result in additional restrictions on our ability to conduct business. In recent years, the U.S. has instituted or proposed changes in trade policies that include the negotiation or termination of trade agreements, the imposition of higher tariffs on imports into the U.S., economic sanctions on individuals, corporations or countries, and other government regulations affecting trade between the U.S. and other countries where we conduct our business. A number of other nations have proposed or instituted similar measures directed at trade with the United States in response. As a result of these developments, there may be greater restrictions and economic disincentives on international trade that could adversely affect our business. As additional trade-related policies are instituted, we need to modify our business operations to comply and adapt to such developments, which may be time-consuming and expensive.
We have been and may in the future become involved in legal and regulatory proceedings and commercial or contractual disputes, which could have a material adverse effect on our profitability and consolidated financial position.
We have been and may in the future be, from time to time, involved in litigation, regulatory proceedings and commercial or contractual disputes and these matters may be significant. These matters may include, without limitation, disputes with our distributors, suppliers and customers, intellectual property claims, stockholder litigation, government investigations, class action lawsuits, personal injury claims, environmental issues, customs and value-added tax disputes and employment and tax issues. In addition, we have in the past and could face in the future a variety of labor and employment claims against us, which could include but is not limited to general discrimination, wage and hour, privacy, ERISA or disability claims. In such matters, government agencies or private parties may seek to recover from us large, indeterminate amounts in penalties or monetary damages (including, in some cases, treble or punitive damages) or seek to limit our operations in some way. These types of lawsuits could require significant management time and attention or could involve substantial legal liability, adverse regulatory outcomes, or substantial expenses to defend. Often these cases raise complex factual and legal issues and create risks and uncertainties.
In addition, on June 10, 2021, we received a letter from the SEC notifying us of an investigation and document subpoena. The subpoena seeks documents regarding projected financial information in CLA’s Form S-4 registration statement filed on December 22, 2020. We are cooperating with the SEC’s subpoena. There can be no assurance whether there will be further information requests or potential litigation, which is necessarily uncertain.
We could be forced to expend significant resources in the defense of these lawsuits or future ones, and we may not prevail. No assurances can be given that any proceedings and claims will not have a material adverse impact on our operating results and consolidated financial position or that our available insurance will mitigate this impact.
We are subject to, and must remain in compliance with, numerous laws and governmental regulations concerning the manufacturing, use, distribution and sale of our products. Some of our customers also require that we comply with their own unique requirements relating to these matters.
We manufacture and sell products that contain components, which may contain materials that are subject to government regulation in both the locations where we manufacture and assemble our products, as well as the locations where we sell our products. Since we operate on a global basis, this is a complex process which requires continual monitoring of regulations and an ongoing compliance process to ensure that we and our suppliers are in compliance with existing regulations in each market where we operate. If there is an unanticipated new regulation that significantly impacts our use and sourcing of various components or requires more expensive components, that regulation could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. If we are not currently in compliance with existing
regulations, or we fail to adhere to new regulations or fail to continually monitor the updates, we may incur costs in remedying our non-compliance and it may disrupt our operations. In addition, current or proposed regulations may adversely impact the availability of supplies needed to manufacture our products. For example, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill to effectively ban all products from China’s Xinjiang province due to concerns that the goods were produced with forced labor, which, if enacted, is expected to have adverse impacts on global supply chains. In such circumstances, we may also be subject to litigation, lose customers, suffer negative publicity and our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We and our vendors are subject to various environmental laws and regulations that could impose substantial costs upon us and cause delays in expanding production facilities.
Environmental pollution and climate change have been the subject of significant legislative and regulatory efforts on a global basis, and we believe this will continue both in scope and in the number of countries participating. In addition, as climate change issues become more prevalent, foreign, federal, state and local governments and our customers have increased their focus on environmental sustainability, which may result in new regulations and customer requirements, which could materially adversely impact our business, results of operations and financial condition. If we are unable to effectively address concerns about environmental impact, our reputation could be negatively impacted, and our business, results of operations or financial condition could suffer.
Any new or modified environmental regulations or laws may increase the cost of raw materials or components we use in our products. Environmental regulations require us to continually reduce product energy usage, monitor and exclude an expanding list of restricted substances and to participate in required recovery and recycling of our products. Environmental and health and safety laws and regulations can be complex, and we have limited experience complying with them. Capital and operating expenses needed to comply with environmental laws and regulations can be significant, and violations may result in substantial fines and penalties, third-party damages, suspension of production or a cessation of our operations.
If contamination is found at properties we operate or formerly operated, this may result in liability for us under environmental laws and regulations, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which can impose liability for the full amount of remediation-related costs without regard to fault. Costs of complying with environmental laws and regulations and any claims concerning noncompliance, or liability with respect to contamination in the future, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or operating results.
We also experience pressure to make commitments relating to sustainability matters that affect companies in our industry, including the design and implementation of specific risk mitigation strategic initiatives relating to sustainability. If we are not effective in addressing environmental, social and other sustainability matters affecting our industry, or setting and meeting relevant sustainability goals, our reputation may suffer. In addition, we may experience increased costs in order to execute upon our sustainability goals and measure achievement of those goals, which could have an adverse impact on our business and financial condition.
We are subject to U.S. and foreign anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws. We can face criminal liability and other serious consequences for violations, which can harm our business.
We are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. § 201, the U.S. Travel Act, the Money Laundering Control Act 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 and 1957, and other anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws in countries in which we conduct activities. Anti-corruption laws are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees, agents, contractors and other collaborators from authorizing, promising, offering or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or anything else of value to recipients in the public or private sector and failing to prevent bribery, and require that we keep accurate books and records and maintain internal accounting controls designed to prevent any such actions. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our employees, agents, contractors and other collaborators, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities. Any violations of the laws and regulations described above may result in substantial civil and criminal fines and penalties, imprisonment, the loss of export or import privileges, debarment, tax reassessments, breach of contract and fraud litigation, reputational harm and other consequences.
As we increase our international cross-border business and expand our operations abroad, we may continue to engage with business partners and third-party intermediaries to market our services and to obtain necessary permits, licenses and other regulatory approvals. In addition, we or our third-party intermediaries may have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or state-owned or affiliated entities. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of these third-party intermediaries, our employees, representatives, contractors, partners and agents, even if we do not explicitly authorize such activities. We cannot assure you that all of our employees and agents will not take actions in violation of our policies and applicable law, for which we may be ultimately held responsible. As we increase our international business, our risks under these laws may increase.
Detecting, investigating and resolving actual or alleged violations of anti-corruption laws can require a significant diversion of time, resources and attention from management. In addition, noncompliance with anti-corruption or anti-bribery laws could subject us to whistleblower complaints, investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, enforcement actions, fines, damages, other civil or criminal penalties, injunctions, suspension or debarment from contracting with certain persons, reputational harm, adverse media coverage and other collateral consequences. If any subpoenas are received or investigations are launched, or governmental or other sanctions are imposed, or if we do not prevail in any possible civil or criminal proceeding, our business, operating results and financial condition could be materially harmed.
Our business may be adversely affected if it fails to comply with the regulatory requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”).
As a lidar technology company, we are subject to the Electronic Product Radiation Control Provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. These requirements are enforced by the FDA. Electronic product radiation includes laser technology. Regulations governing these products are intended to protect the public from hazardous or unnecessary exposure. Manufacturers are required to certify in product labeling and in reports to the FDA that their products comply with applicable performance standards as well as maintain manufacturing, testing, and distribution records for their products. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in enforcement action by the FDA, which could require us to cease distribution of our products, recall or remediate products already distributed to customers, or subject us to FDA enforcement.
Failures, or perceived failures, to comply with privacy, data protection, and information security requirements in the variety of jurisdictions in which we operate may adversely impact our business, and such legal requirements are evolving, uncertain and may require improvements in, or changes to, our policies and operations.
Our current and potential future operations and sales subject us to laws and regulations addressing privacy and the collection, use, storage, disclosure, transfer and protection of a variety of types of data. For example, the European Commission has adopted the General Data Protection Regulation and California recently enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, both of which provide for potentially material penalties for non-compliance. These regimes may, among other things, impose data security requirements, disclosure requirements, and restrictions on data collection, uses, and sharing that may impact our operations and the development of our business. While, generally, we do not have access to, collect, store, process, or share information collected by our customers using our products unless our customers choose to proactively provide such information to us. Our products may evolve to address potential customer requirements or to add new features and functionality. Therefore, the full impact of these privacy regimes on our business is rapidly evolving across jurisdictions and remains uncertain at this time.
We may also be affected by cyber-attacks and other means of gaining unauthorized access to our products, systems, and data. For instance, cyber criminals or insiders may target us or third parties with which we have business relationships to obtain data, or in a manner that disrupts our operations or compromises our products or the systems into which our products are integrated.
We are assessing the continually evolving privacy and data security regimes and measures we believe are appropriate in response. Since these data security regimes are evolving, uncertain and complex, especially for a global business like ours, we may need to update or enhance our compliance measures as our products, markets and customer demands further develop, and these updates or enhancements may require implementation costs. In addition, we may not be able to monitor and react to all developments in a timely manner. The compliance measures we do adopt may prove ineffective. Any failure, or perceived failure, by us to comply with current and future regulatory or customer-driven privacy, data protection, and information security requirements, or to prevent or mitigate security breaches, cyber-attacks, or improper access to, use of, or disclosure of data, or any security issues or cyber-attacks affecting us, could result in significant liability, costs (including the costs of mitigation and recovery), and a material loss of revenue resulting from the adverse impact on our reputation and brand, loss of proprietary information and data, disruption to our business and relationships, and diminished ability to retain or attract customers and business partners. Such events may result in governmental enforcement actions and prosecutions, private litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity, and could cause customers and business partners to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
We may not be able to adequately protect or enforce our intellectual property rights or prevent competitors or other unauthorized parties from copying or reverse engineering our technology.
Our success depends in part on our ability to obtain patents and other intellectual property rights covering our technology and products, and to maintain adequate legal protection for our technology and products in the United States and
worldwide. We rely on patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret laws, as well as confidentiality procedures and contractual restrictions, to establish and protect our proprietary rights, all of which provide only limited protections.
We can make no assurances whether any of our pending patent applications will mature into issued patents, or that any of our pending trademark applications will be registered, in a manner that gives us any or adequate defensive protection or competitive advantages. We also do not know whether any patents issued to us or any trademarks registered by us will not be challenged, invalidated or circumvented. Our portfolio of currently-issued patents and registered trademarks, and any patents that may be issued, any copyrights and trademarks that may be registered in the future, may not provide sufficiently broad protections to us, or may not prove to be enforceable in actions against alleged infringers. We cannot be certain that the actions we have undertaken to protect our technology and products will prevent unauthorized use of our technology or the reverse engineering of our products. Moreover, others may independently develop technologies and products that compete with ours, or infringe our intellectual property.
We have filed for patents and trademarks in the United States and in certain international jurisdictions, but such protections may not be available, and we may not have applied for protections in all countries in which we operate or sell our products. Though we may have obtained intellectual property and related proprietary rights in various jurisdictions, it may prove difficult to enforce our intellectual property rights in practice. Discovering and protecting against unauthorized use of our intellectual property, products and other proprietary rights is expensive and difficult, particularly internationally. We believe that our patents are foundational in the area of lidar products, and intend to enforce our intellectual property rights. Competitors and other unauthorized parties may attempt to copy or reverse engineer our lidar technology and other aspects of our solutions that we consider proprietary. Litigation may be necessary in the future to enforce or defend our intellectual property rights, to prevent unauthorized parties from copying or reverse engineering our products, to determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others or to block the importation of infringing products into the United States or other markets.Failure to adequately protect our intellectual property rights could result in our competitors offering similar products, potentially resulting in the loss of some of our competitive advantage, market share and a decrease in our revenue, which would adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition and prospects.
Claims that we are infringing third-party intellectual property, whether successful or not, could subject us to costly and time-consuming litigation or expensive licenses, and adversely affect our business.
Any intellectual property and related contractual litigation, if it is initiated in the future by us or a third party, would result in substantial costs and diversion of management resources, either of which could materially and adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition. Such claims may also divert management resources and attention away from other business efforts and force us to acquire intellectual property rights and licenses, which may involve substantial royalty or other payments that may not be acceptable to us. Further, a party making such a claim against us, if successful, could secure a judgment that requires us to pay substantial damages or such a party could obtain an injunction. An adverse determination also could invalidate our intellectual property rights and adversely affect our ability to offer our products to our customers and may require that we procure or develop substitute products that do not infringe, which could require significant effort and expense. Even if we obtain favorable outcomes in any such litigation, we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies, or may have incurred costs that threaten our financial stability. Assertions of our attempts to enforce our rights against third parties could also lead these third parties to assert their own intellectual property or other rights against us or seek invalidation or a narrowed scope of our rights, in whole or in part. Any of these events could adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition and prospects.
Lidar is a heavily populated intellectual property field, in which many companies, both within and outside of the lidar industry, hold patents covering lidar products and other adjacent technologies. In addition to patents, companies in the lidar industry typically rely on copyrights and trade secrets to protect their technology. As a result, there has been frequent litigation in the lidar industry based on allegations of patent infringement, misappropriation or other violations of intellectual property rights. We have, and in the future may, receive inquiries from other intellectual property holders and we may become subject to claims that we infringe others’ intellectual property rights, particularly as our market presence increases, as our products expand to new use cases and geographies, and as we face increasing competition. In addition, parties may claim that our name and the branding of our products infringe their trademark rights in certain countries or territories. If such a claim were to prevail, we may have to change the names of and branding of our products in the affected territories which would be costly and could cause market confusion.
We currently have various agreements in effect pursuant to which we have agreed to defend, indemnify and hold harmless our customers, suppliers, and other partners from damages and costs which may arise from the infringement by our products of third-party patents or other intellectual property rights. The scope of these indemnity obligations vary, but may, in some instances, include indemnification for damages and expenses, including attorneys’ fees. Our insurance does not typically cover intellectual property infringement claims. A claim that our products infringe a third party’s intellectual property rights, even if untrue, could adversely affect our relationships with our customers and deter future customers from
purchasing our products. Our defense of intellectual property rights claims brought against us, or our customers, suppliers or partners, with or without merit, could be time-consuming and expensive to litigate or settle.
Even if we are not a party to any litigation between a customer and a third party relating to infringement of its products, an adverse outcome in any such litigation could make it more difficult for us to defend our products against intellectual property infringement claims in any subsequent litigation matter in which we are a named party. Any of these results could adversely affect our brand and operating results.
Any intellectual property and related contractual litigation, if it is initiated in the future by us or a third party, would result in substantial costs and diversion of management resources, either of which could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition. Such claims may also divert management resources and attention away from other business efforts and force us to acquire intellectual property rights and licenses, which may involve substantial royalty or other payments that may not be acceptable to us. Further, a party making such a claim against us, if successful, could secure a judgment that requires us to pay substantial damages or such a party could obtain an injunction. An adverse determination also could invalidate our intellectual property rights and adversely affect our ability to offer our products to our customers and may require that we procure or develop substitute products that do not infringe, which could require significant effort and expense. Even if we obtain favorable outcomes in any such litigation, we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies, or may have incurred costs that threaten our financial stability. Assertions of our rights against third parties could also lead third parties to assert their own intellectual property or other rights against us or seek invalidation or a narrowed scope of our rights, in whole or in part. Any of these events could adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition and prospects.
Our intellectual property applications may not issue or be registered, which may have a material adverse effect on our ability to prevent others from commercially exploiting products similar to ours.
We cannot be certain that we are the first inventor of the subject matter to which we have filed any particular patent application, or if we are the first party to file such a patent application. If another party has filed a patent application to, or otherwise publicly disclosed, subject matter that we are seeking to protect in a given patent application, we may not be entitled to the protection sought by the patent application. We also cannot be certain whether the claims included in a patent application will ultimately be granted as an issued patent since the patent office of the jurisdiction in which a patent application is filed may rule that the subject matter we are seeking to patent is not novel or is obvious or otherwise non-inventive or rule that the patent application and/or claims of the patent application do not comply with one or more other requirements of the patent laws of the jurisdiction. Further, the scope of protection of issued patent claims is often difficult to determine. As a result, we cannot be certain that our issued patents will afford protection against competitors with similar technology. In addition, our competitors may design around our issued patents, which may adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.
In addition to patented technology, we rely on our unpatented proprietary technology, copyrights, trade secrets, proprietary processes and know-how.
We rely on proprietary information (including, for example, trade secrets, know-how and confidential information) to protect intellectual property that may not be patentable or subject to copyright or trademark protection, or that we believe is best protected by means that do not require public disclosure. We may seek to protect this proprietary information by entering into confidentiality agreements, or consulting, services or employment agreements that contain non-disclosure and non-use provisions with our employees, consultants, contractors and third parties. We may fail, however, to enter into the necessary agreements, and even if properly executed and entered into, these agreements may be breached or may otherwise fail to prevent disclosure, third-party infringement or misappropriation of our proprietary information, may be limited as to their term and may not provide an adequate remedy in the event of unauthorized disclosure or use of proprietary information. Additionally, we have limited control over the protection of trade secrets used by our current or future manufacturing partners and suppliers and could lose future trade secret protection if any unauthorized disclosure of such information occurs. In addition, our proprietary information may otherwise become known or be independently developed by our competitors or other third parties. To the extent that our employees, consultants, contractors, advisors and other third parties use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related or resulting know-how and inventions. Costly and time-consuming litigation could be necessary to enforce and determine the scope of our proprietary rights, and failure to obtain or maintain protection for our proprietary information could adversely affect our competitive business position. Furthermore, laws regarding trade secret rights in certain markets where we operate may afford little or no protection to our trade secrets.
We also rely on security measures, both physical and electronic, to protect our proprietary information, but we cannot provide assurance that these security measures will not be breached or provide adequate protection for our property. There is a risk that third parties may obtain and improperly utilize our proprietary information to our competitive disadvantage.
Also, we may not be able to detect or prevent the unauthorized use of such information or take appropriate and timely steps to enforce our intellectual property rights.
We may be subject to damages resulting from claims that we or our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets of our employees’ former employers.
We may be subject to claims that we or our employees have inadvertently or otherwise used or disclosed trade secrets or other proprietary information of one or more of an employee’s former employers. Litigation may be necessary to defend us against these claims. If we fail in defending such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. A loss of key personnel or their work product could hamper or prevent our ability to commercialize our products, which could severely harm our business. Even if we are successful in defending against any such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and demand on management resources.
Risks Related to Being a Public Company
Certain of our warrants are accounted for as liabilities and the changes in value of such warrants could have a material effect on our financial results.
On April 12, 2021, the Acting Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Acting Chief Accountant of the SEC together issued a statement regarding the accounting and reporting considerations for warrants issued by special purpose acquisition companies entitled “Staff Statement on Accounting and Reporting Considerations for Warrants Issued by Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (“SPACs”)” (the “SEC Statement”). Specifically, the SEC Statement focused on certain settlement terms and provisions related to certain tender offers following a business combination, which terms are similar to those contained in the warrant agreement governing our private placement warrants. We evaluated the accounting treatment of our private placement warrants, and determined to classify such warrants as derivative liabilities measured at fair value, with changes in fair value each period reported in earnings. Due to the recurring fair value measurement, we recognize non-cash gains or losses on our private placement warrants each reporting period and the amount of such gains or losses has been material and could continue to be material in the future.
Our accounting treatment of the private placement warrants and public warrants is based on its current interpretation of the SEC Statement and other guidance and may change in light of any further interpretive guidance, as may be applicable.
The restatement of CLA’s financial statements may lead to additional risks and uncertainties, including regulatory, litigation, stockholder or other actions, loss of investor and counterparty confidence and negative impacts on our stock price.
As disclosed in the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on May 14, 2021, on May 13, 2021, the Audit Committee of our Board of Directors, in response to the SEC Statement after discussion with management of the Company and based on management’s consultation with Marcum LLP, CLA’s independent registered public accounting firm prior to the Merger, and its legal advisors, concluded that CLA’s previously issued consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2020 included in CLA’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 should be restated to reflect the impact of the change in accounting for the warrants and accordingly, should no longer be relied upon.
As a result of the restatement and associated non-reliance on CLA’s previously issued consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020, we incurred additional costs. We could also be subject to regulatory, litigation, stockholder, or other actions in connection with the restatement, which would, regardless of the outcome, consume management’s time and attention and may result in additional legal, accounting, and other costs. If we do not prevail in any such proceedings, we could be required to pay damages or settlement costs, which could be material. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, and stock price.
We have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and may identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, which may result in material misstatements of our consolidated financial statements, or cause us to fail to meet our periodic reporting obligations, or cause our access to the capital markets to be impaired.
In the course of preparing our financial statements for year ended December 31, 2020, we identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
We did not design and maintain an effective control environment commensurate with our financial reporting requirements. Specifically, we did not maintain a sufficient complement of personnel with an appropriate degree of internal controls and
accounting knowledge, experience, and training commensurate with our accounting and reporting requirements. This material weakness contributed to the following additional material weaknesses:
•We did not design and maintain effective controls over the period-end financial reporting process to achieve complete, accurate and timely financial accounting, reporting and disclosures, including segregation of duties and adequate controls related to journal entries and certain other business processes, and verifying transactions are properly classified in the financial statements. This material weakness resulted in adjustments to several account balances and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, and adjustments to the equity and warrant liabilities accounts and related disclosures in the condensed consolidated financial statements for the three months ended March 31, 2021.
•We did not design and maintain effective controls over certain information technology (“IT”) general controls for information systems that are relevant to the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. Specifically, we did not design and maintain (i) program change management controls to ensure that information technology program and data changes affecting financial IT applications and underlying accounting records are identified, tested, authorized and implemented appropriately and (ii) user access controls to ensure appropriate segregation of duties and that adequately restrict user and privileged access to our financial applications, programs and data to appropriate personnel. This material weakness did not result in a material misstatement to the consolidated financial statements, however, the deficiencies, when aggregated, could impact maintaining effective segregation of duties, as well as the effectiveness of IT-dependent controls (such as automated controls that address the risk of material misstatement to one or more assertions, along with the IT controls and underlying data that support the effectiveness of system-generated data and reports) that could result in misstatements potentially impacting all financial statement accounts and disclosures that would not be prevented or detected.
Additionally, each of these material weaknesses could result in a misstatement of account balances or disclosures that would result in a material misstatement to the annual or interim consolidated financial statements that would not be prevented or detected.
During the year ended December 31, 2021, we have taken several measures to design and implement controls to improve our internal control over financial reporting, and continue to make progress towards establishing an effective internal control framework to remediate the foregoing material weaknesses. Our efforts included the following:
•Recruiting additional personnel with appropriate internal controls, accounting knowledge and experience commensurate with our accounting and reporting requirements, in addition to engaging and utilizing third party consultants and specialists.
•Enhancing Entity Level Controls including increasing Board and Audit Committee oversight, expanding senior management review of financial and business performance, creating an internal audit function and charter, and providing code of conduct trainings.
•Strengthening IT governance and designing IT general controls including restricted user access to our internal systems for financial reporting, change management, program development and computer operations.
•Designing additional controls for financial close and reporting including review of accounting policies, journal entry review controls, review of significant or non-routine transactions, period end close procedures, financial statement preparation, review, and reporting.
While we continue to undertake efforts to remediate these material weaknesses, the material weaknesses will not be considered remediated until our remediation plan has been fully implemented, the applicable controls operate for a sufficient period of time, and we have concluded, through testing, that the newly implemented and enhanced controls are operating effectively. At this time, we cannot predict the success of such efforts or the outcome of our assessment of the remediation efforts. We can give no assurance that our efforts will remediate these material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, or that additional material weaknesses will not be identified in the future. Our failure to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could result in errors in our consolidated financial statements that could result in a restatement of our financial statements, and could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations, any of which could diminish investor confidence in us and cause a decline in the price of our common stock. Additionally, ineffective internal control could expose us to an increased risk of financial reporting fraud
and the misappropriation of assets and subject us to potential delisting from the stock exchange on which we list or to other regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions.
As a public company, we will be required pursuant to Section 404(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to furnish a report by management on, among other things, the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for each future annual report on Form 10-K to be filed with the SEC. This assessment will need to include disclosure of any material weaknesses identified by our management in internal control over financial reporting. At such time as we are required to provide management’s foregoing assessment, our independent registered public accounting firm will also be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting in each annual report on Form 10-K to be filed with the SEC pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We are also required to disclose material changes made in our internal control over financial reporting on a quarterly basis. Failure to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could potentially subject us to sanctions or investigations by the SEC, the stock exchange on which our securities are listed or other regulatory authorities, which would require additional financial and management resources. We have begun the costly and challenging process of compiling the system and processing documentation necessary to perform the evaluation needed to comply with Section 404, but we may not be able to complete our evaluation, testing and any required remediation in a timely fashion.
We have incurred and will continue to incur increased costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management will devote substantial time to new compliance initiatives.
We have incurred and will continue to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses as a public company that we did not incur as a private company. As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), as well as rules adopted, and to be adopted, by the SEC and the applicable stock exchange. Our management and other personnel, many of whom have limited experience managing a public company, will need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations have substantially increased and we expect to continue to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, these rules and regulations make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance and we may be forced to accept reduced policy limits or incur substantially higher costs to maintain the same or similar coverage. We cannot predict or estimate the amount or timing of additional costs we may incur to respond to these requirements. The impact of these requirements could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as executive officers.
General Risk Factors
Our business, results of operations and financial condition have been and could continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant volatility and disruption globally. The COVID-19 measures adopted by governments and businesses, including restrictions on travel and business operations and shelter in place and other quarantine orders, have affected our business, and could continue to adversely affect our business operations or the business operations of our customers. At certain times during the pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our business by slowing the pace of manufacturing ramp up due to employees’ inability to travel to our manufacturing facility in Thailand, temporarily disrupting the operations of certain of our suppliers, and resulting in increased costs of overtime pay and additional personnel in San Francisco to create separate manufacturing teams that rotate every other week in our facility to avoid any possible transmission of COVID-19 between teams. The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations depends on factors outside of our control. The duration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the associated business interruptions may affect our sales, supply chain or the manufacture or distribution of products, which could result in a material adverse effect on our financial condition. Our response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may prove to be inadequate. We may be unable to continue our operations in the manner that we did prior to the outbreak and we may endure interruptions, reputational harm, delays in product development and shipments, all of which could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. The COVID-19 pandemic may also intensify or exacerbate other risks described in this section.
Our facilities in California are located near an earthquake fault and an earthquake or other natural disaster or resource shortage could disrupt our operations.
Important documents and records for our products and manufacturing operations are located in our various facilities in San Francisco, California near active earthquake zones. In the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, drought, flood or fire or localized extended outages of critical utilities or transportation we do not have a formal business continuity or disaster recovery plan, and therefore could experience a significant business interruption. In addition, California has from time to time experienced shortages of water, natural gas, and electric power. Future shortages and conservation measures could impact our operations and result in increased expense. In addition, we rely on information technology systems to communicate among our workforce and with third parties. Any disruption to our communications, whether caused by a natural disaster or by man-made problems, such as power disruptions, could adversely affect our business. To the extent that any such disruptions result in delays or cancellations of orders or impede our suppliers’ ability to timely deliver product components, our business, operating results and financial condition would be adversely affected.
We are subject to cybersecurity risks to operational systems, security systems, infrastructure, firmware in our lidar and customer data processed by us or third-party vendors or suppliers and any material failure, weakness, interruption, cyber event, incident or breach of security could prevent us from effectively operating our business.
We have experienced and expect to continue to experience actual and attempted cyber-attacks of our IT networks, such as through phishing scams and ransomware. Although none of these actual or attempted cyber-attacks has had a material adverse impact on our operations or financial condition, we cannot guarantee that any such incidents will not have such an impact in the future. For example, we are at risk for interruptions, outages and breaches of: operational systems, including business, financial, accounting, product development, data processing or production processes, owned by us or our third-party vendors or suppliers; facility security systems, owned by us or our third-party vendors or suppliers; in-product technology owned by us or our third-party vendors or suppliers; the integrated software in our lidar solutions; or customer or driver data that we process or our third-party vendors or suppliers process on our behalf. Such cyber incidents could materially disrupt operational systems; result in loss of intellectual property, trade secrets or other proprietary or competitively sensitive information; compromise certain information of customers, employees, suppliers, drivers or others; jeopardize the security of our facilities; or affect the performance of in-product technology and the integrated software in our lidar solutions. A cyber incident could be caused by disasters, insiders (through inadvertence or with malicious intent) or malicious third parties (including nation-states or nation-state supported actors) using sophisticated, targeted methods to circumvent firewalls, encryption and other security defenses, including hacking, fraud, trickery or other forms of deception. The techniques used by cyber attackers change frequently and may be difficult to detect for long periods of time. Although we maintain information technology measures designed to protect us against intellectual property theft, data breaches and other cyber incidents, such measures will require updates and improvements, and we cannot guarantee that such measures will be adequate to detect, prevent or mitigate cyber incidents. The implementation, maintenance, segregation and improvement of these systems requires significant management time, support and cost. Moreover, there are inherent risks associated with developing, improving, expanding and updating current systems, including the disruption of our data management, procurement, production execution, finance, supply chain and sales and service processes. These risks may affect our ability to manage our data and inventory, procure parts or supplies or produce, sell, deliver and service our solutions, adequately protect our intellectual property or achieve and maintain compliance with, or realize available benefits under, applicable laws, regulations and contracts. We cannot be sure that the systems upon which we rely, including those of our third-party vendors or suppliers, will be effectively implemented, maintained or expanded as planned. If we do not successfully implement, maintain or expand these systems as planned, our operations may be disrupted, our ability to accurately and timely report our financial results could be impaired, and deficiencies may arise in our internal control over financial reporting, which may impact our ability to certify our financial results. Moreover, our proprietary information or intellectual property could be compromised or misappropriated and our reputation may be adversely affected. If these systems do not operate as we expect them to, we may be required to expend significant resources to make corrections or find alternative sources for performing these functions.
A significant cyber incident could impact production capability, harm our reputation, cause us to breach our contracts with other parties or subject us to regulatory actions or litigation, any of which could materially affect our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results. In addition, our insurance coverage for cyber-attacks may not be sufficient to cover all the losses we may experience as a result of a cyber incident. Any problems with our third-party cloud hosting providers, whether due to cyber security failures or other causes, could result in lengthy interruptions in our business.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock and Our Warrants
The price of our common stock and warrants may be volatile.
The price of our common stock, as well as our warrants, may fluctuate due to a variety of factors, including:
•changes in the industries in which we and our customers operate;
•developments involving our competitors;
•changes in laws and regulations affecting our business;
•variations in our operating performance and the performance of our competitors in general;
•actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly or annual operating results;
•publication of research reports by securities analysts about us or our competitors or our industry;
•the public’s reaction to our press releases, our other public announcements and our filings with the SEC;
•actions by stockholders, including the sale by significant stockholders of any of their shares of our common stock;
•additions and departures of key personnel;
•commencement of, or involvement in, litigation involving our company;
•changes in our capital structure, such as future issuances of securities or the incurrence of additional debt;
•the volume of shares of our common stock available for public sale; and
•general economic and political conditions, such as the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, recessions, interest rates, local and national elections, fuel prices, international currency fluctuations, corruption, political instability and acts of war or terrorism.
These market and industry factors may materially reduce the market price of our common stock and warrants regardless of our operating performance.
We do not intend to pay cash dividends for the foreseeable future.
We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to finance the further development and expansion of our business and do not intend to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, restrictions contained in future agreements and financing instruments, business prospects and such other factors as our board of directors deems relevant.
If analysts do not publish research about our business or if they publish inaccurate or unfavorable research, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that analysts publish about our business. We do not have any control over these analysts. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our common stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the price of our common stock would likely decline. If few analysts cover us, demand for our common stock could decrease and our common stock price and trading volume may decline. Similar results may occur if one or more of these analysts stop covering us in the future or fail to publish reports on us regularly.
We may be subject to securities litigation, which is expensive and could divert management attention.
The market price of our common stock may be volatile and, in the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock have been subject to securities class action litigation. We may be the target of this type of litigation in the future. Securities litigation against us could result in substantial costs and divert management’s attention from other business concerns, which could seriously harm our business.
Delaware law and our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws contain certain provisions, including anti-takeover provisions that limit the ability of stockholders to take certain actions and could delay or discourage takeover attempts that stockholders may consider favorable.
Our Certification of Incorporation and Bylaws and the Delaware General Corporations Law (“DGCL”) contain provisions that could have the effect of rendering more difficult, delaying, or preventing an acquisition that stockholders may consider favorable, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares. These provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock, and therefore depress the trading price of our common stock. These provisions could also make it difficult for stockholders to take certain actions, including electing directors who are not nominated by the current members of our board of directors
or taking other corporate actions, including effecting changes in our management. Among other things, the Certification of Incorporation and Bylaws include provisions regarding:
•providing for a classified board of directors with staggered, three-year terms;
•the ability of our board of directors to issue shares of preferred stock, including “blank check” preferred stock and to determine the price and other terms of those shares, including preferences and voting rights, without stockholder approval, which could be used to significantly dilute the ownership of a hostile acquirer;
•the Certificate of Incorporation prohibits cumulative voting in the election of directors, which limits the ability of minority stockholders to elect director candidates;
•the limitation of the liability of, and the indemnification of, our directors and officers;
•the ability of our board of directors to amend the bylaws, which may allow our board of directors to take additional actions to prevent an unsolicited takeover and inhibit the ability of an acquirer to amend the bylaws to facilitate an unsolicited takeover attempt; and
•advance notice procedures with which stockholders must comply to nominate candidates to our board of directors or to propose matters to be acted upon at a stockholders’ meeting, which could preclude stockholders from bringing matters before annual or special meetings of stockholders and delay changes in our board of directors and also may discourage or deter a potential acquirer from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquirer’s own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us.
These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our board of directors or management.
The provisions of our Certificate of Incorporation requiring exclusive forum in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware and the federal district courts of the United States for certain types of lawsuits may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against our directors and officers.
Our Certificate of Incorporation provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, and unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, in the event that the Chancery Court does not have jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware or other state courts of the State of Delaware) will be the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action, suit or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action, suit or proceeding asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or stockholders to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action, suit or proceeding arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL or our Bylaws or Certificate of Incorporation (as each may be amended from time to time), (iv) any action, suit or proceeding as to which the DGCL confers jurisdiction on the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, or (v) any action, suit or proceeding asserting a claim against us or any current or former director, officer or stockholder governed by the internal affairs doctrine.
Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Securities Act or the rules and regulations thereunder. Accordingly, both state and federal courts have jurisdiction to entertain such Securities Act claims. To prevent having to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions and the threat of inconsistent or contrary rulings by different courts, among other considerations, the Certificate of Incorporation will also provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the federal district courts of the United States of America shall be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act; however, there is uncertainty as to whether a court would enforce such provision, and investors cannot waive compliance with federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Certificate of Incorporation provides that the exclusive forum provision will not apply to suits brought to enforce any cause of action arising under the Securities Act, any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. Section 27 of the Exchange Act creates exclusive federal jurisdiction over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or the rules and regulations thereunder.
These provisions may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against our directors and officers. The enforceability of similar choice of forum provisions in other companies’ certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that, in connection with any applicable action brought against us, a court could find the choice of forum provisions contained in the Certificate of Incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in such action.
You will not be permitted to exercise your warrants unless we register and qualify the underlying common stock or certain exemptions are available.
If the issuance of the common stock upon exercise of our warrants is not registered, qualified or exempt from registration or qualification under the Securities Act and applicable state securities laws, holders of warrants will not be entitled to
exercise such warrants and such warrants may have no value and expire worthless. In such event, holders who acquired their warrants as part of a purchase of units will have paid the full unit purchase price solely for the common stock included in the units.
If the common stock issuable upon exercise of the warrants are not registered under the Securities Act, under the terms of the warrant agreement, holders of warrants who seek to exercise their warrants will not be permitted to do so for cash and, instead, will be required to do so on a cashless basis in accordance with Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act or another exemption.
In no event will warrants be exercisable for cash or on a cashless basis, and we will not be obligated to issue any shares to holders seeking to exercise their warrants, unless the issuance of the shares upon such exercise is registered or qualified under the securities laws of the state of the exercising holder, or an exemption from registration or qualification is available.
If our common stock are at the time of any exercise of a warrant not listed on a national securities exchange such that they satisfy the definition of “covered securities” under Section 18(b)(1) of the Securities Act, we may, at our option, not permit holders of warrants who seek to exercise their warrants to do so for cash and, instead, require them to do so on a cashless basis in accordance with Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act; in the event we so elect, we will not be required to file or maintain in effect a registration statement or register or qualify the shares underlying the warrants under applicable state securities laws, and in the event we do not so elect, we will use our best efforts to register or qualify the shares underlying the warrants under applicable state securities laws to the extent an exemption is not available.
In no event will we be required to net cash settle any warrant, or issue securities (other than upon a cashless exercise as described above) or other compensation in exchange for the warrants in the event that we are unable to register or qualify the shares underlying the warrants under the Securities Act or applicable state securities laws.
You may only be able to exercise your public warrants on a “cashless basis” under certain circumstances, and if you do so, you will receive fewer shares of common stock from such exercise than if you were to exercise such warrants for cash.
The warrant agreement provides that in the following circumstances holders of warrants who seek to exercise their warrants will not be permitted to do for cash and will, instead, be required to do so on a cashless basis in accordance with Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act: (i) if the common stock issuable upon exercise of the warrants are not registered under the Securities Act in accordance with the terms of the warrant agreement; (ii) if we have so elected and the common stock are at the time of any exercise of a warrant not listed on a national securities exchange such that they satisfy the definition of “covered securities” under Section 18(b)(1) of the Securities Act; and (iii) if we have so elected and we call the public warrants for redemption. If you exercise your public warrants on a cashless basis, you would pay the warrant exercise price by surrendering the warrants for that number of common stock equal to the quotient obtained by dividing (x) the product of the number of common stock underlying the warrants, multiplied by the excess of the “fair market value” of our common stock (as defined in the next sentence) over the exercise price of the warrants by (y) the fair market value. The “fair market value” is the average reported closing price of the common stock for the 10 trading days ending on the third trading day prior to the date on which the notice of exercise is received by the warrant agent or on which the notice of redemption is sent to the holders of warrants, as applicable. As a result, you would receive fewer shares of common stock from such exercise than if you were to exercise such warrants for cash.
We may amend the terms of the warrants in a manner that may be adverse to holders of public warrants with the approval by the holders of at least 50% of the then outstanding public warrants. As a result, the exercise price of your warrants could be increased, the exercise period could be shortened and the number of common stock purchasable upon exercise of a warrant could be decreased, all without your approval.
Our warrants were issued in registered form under a warrant agreement between Continental Stock Transfer & Trust Company, as warrant agent, and us. The warrant agreement provides that the terms of the warrants may be amended without the consent of any holder for the purpose of (i) curing any ambiguity or to correct any defective provision or mistake, including to conform the provisions of the warrant agreement to the description of the terms of the warrants and the warrant agreement, (ii) adjusting the provisions relating to cash dividends on ordinary shares as contemplated by and in accordance with the warrant agreement or (iii) adding or changing any provisions with respect to matters or questions arising under the warrant agreement as the parties to the warrant agreement may deem necessary or desirable and that the parties deem to not adversely affect the rights of the registered holders of the warrants, provided that the approval by the holders of at least 50% of the then-outstanding public warrants is required to make any change that adversely affects the interests of the registered holders of public warrants. Accordingly, we may amend the terms of the public warrants in a manner adverse to a holder of public warrants if holders of at least 50% of the then outstanding public warrants approve of such amendment. Although our ability to amend the terms of the public warrants with the consent of at least 50% of the
then outstanding public warrants is unlimited, examples of such amendments could be amendments to, among other things, increase the exercise price of the warrants, convert the warrants into cash or shares, shorten the exercise period or decrease the number of common stock purchasable upon exercise of a warrant.
Our warrant agreement designates the courts of the State of New York or the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by holders of our warrants, which could limit the ability of warrant holders to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us.
Our warrant agreement provides that, subject to applicable law, (i) any action, proceeding or claim against us arising out of or relating in any way to the warrant agreement, including under the Securities Act, will be brought and enforced in the courts of the State of New York or the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and (ii) that we irrevocably submit to such jurisdiction, which jurisdiction shall be the exclusive forum for any such action, proceeding or claim. We will waive any objection to such exclusive jurisdiction and that such courts represent an inconvenient forum.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, these provisions of the warrant agreement will not apply to suits brought to enforce any liability or duty created by the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the federal district courts of the United States of America are the sole and exclusive forum. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in any of our warrants shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the forum provisions in our warrant agreement. If any action, the subject matter of which is within the scope the forum provisions of the warrant agreement, is filed in a court other than a court of the State of New York or the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (a “foreign action”) in the name of any holder of our warrants, such holder shall be deemed to have consented to: (x) the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in the State of New York in connection with any action brought in any such court to enforce the forum provisions (an “enforcement action”), and (y) having service of process made upon such warrant holder in any such enforcement action by service upon such warrant holder’s counsel in the foreign action as agent for such warrant holder.
This choice-of-forum provision may limit a warrant holder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us, which may discourage such lawsuits. Alternatively, if a court were to find this provision of our warrant agreement inapplicable or unenforceable with respect to one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and result in a diversion of the time and resources of our management and board of directors.
We may redeem your unexpired warrants prior to their exercise at a time that is disadvantageous to you, thereby making your warrants worthless.
We have the ability to redeem outstanding warrants at any time after they become exercisable and prior to their expiration, at a price of $0.01 per warrant, provided that the closing price of our common stock equals or exceeds $18.00 per share (as adjusted for share splits, share capitalizations, reorganizations, recapitalizations and the like) for any 20 trading days within a 30 trading-day period ending on the third trading day prior to the date on which we give proper notice of such redemption to the warrants holders and provided certain other conditions are met. If and when the warrants become redeemable by us, we may exercise our redemption right even if we are unable to register or qualify the underlying securities for sale under all applicable state securities laws. Redemption of the outstanding warrants could force you to (i) exercise your warrants and pay the exercise price therefor at a time when it may be disadvantageous for you to do so, (ii) sell your warrants at the then-current market price when you might otherwise wish to hold your warrants or (iii) accept the nominal redemption price which, at the time the outstanding warrants are called for redemption, is likely to be substantially less than the market value of your warrants. None of the private placement warrants will be redeemable by us so long as they are held by the Sponsor or its permitted transferees.