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Ex-Tesla Top Lawyer Gets $30 Million to Join Startup Luminar (2)

March 7, 2022, 11:00 AMUpdated: March 7, 2022, 4:42 PM

Luminar Technologies Inc. gave its new chief legal officer Alan Prescott nearly $30 million in total compensation last year to lure him away from Tesla Inc.

Prescott, a former safety engineer and in-house lawyer at Ford Motor Co., served as senior counsel for autonomous vehicles at Uber Technologies Inc. prior to joining Tesla in 2017. He became acting general counsel and corporate secretary for Elon Musk’s electric automaker in late 2019.

Tesla is just one of several Musk-controlled entities that has cycled through law department leaders in recent years.

Luminar is a laser sensor startup backed by billionaire Peter Thiel that went public in 2020 by merging with a special purpose acquisition company. Luminar hired Prescott last year to be its chief legal officer and corporate secretary.

The company declined to discuss Prescott’s pay package, which was disclosed in a 10-K filed March 1.

The bulk of Prescott’s compensation is comprised of more than $29.5 million in stock awards. A source familiar with the matter said that represents a target aggregate over six years, not Prescott’s compensation for a single year.

The pay is on par with what some other law department leaders have received at newly public companies.

Prescott, whose first day at Luminar was April 26, was given a new hire initial equity grant in addition to long-term stock incentives, said the source, who added that most of Prescott’s pay is tied to company growth. The source said Prescott’s mix of cash and stock compensation roughly matches what he had at Tesla and was necessary to bring on a lawyer with his automotive industry expertise.

Luminar paid nearly $205,700 in cash to Prescott last year. His employment agreement with the company—amended in November—shows he’s entitled to a $300,000 annual base salary with a $50,000 bonus. Prescott currently owns more than $21.5 million in Luminar stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Prescott spent a decade at Ford, where he handled product development and manufacturing legal work and served as special counsel to the auto giant’s general counsel, according to his biography in Luminar’s 10-K.

Uber hired Prescott in 2016 to lead its advanced technology group, a role that saw him oversee commercial, cybersecurity, litigation, privacy, and regulatory for the ridesharing company. Uber sold off its former self-driving unit last year.

New Technology

Luminar, which has offices in Boston, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Orlando, Fla.; and Palo Alto, Calif., saw its stock price soar earlier this year after German auto giant Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unveiled plans to buy a stake in the company and use its technology for its next generation of vehicles.

Luminar specializes in perception software and lidar, short for light detection and ranging, a sensor technology used in self-driving vehicles.

Musk, Tesla’s CEO and “technoking,” according to the company’s most recent proxy statement, has been openly skeptical of lidar, despite a report by Bloomberg News last year about Tesla having a contract to test Luminar’s technology on its vehicles.

Since Prescott was hired nearly a year ago, Luminar has made other legal additions, including landing former Tesla chief intellectual property counsel Christopher Lubeck in September as its head of IP. Lubeck was most recently a senior director and head of patents and open source at software company ServiceNow Inc.

Alexander Phillips, a vice president of legal at computer networking company Netgear Inc., also joined Luminar last year as an associate general counsel and head of corporate. Phillips started his career as an associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, whose chair Katharine Martin was named to Luminar’s board last year.

Luminar’s 10-K shows that Martin received almost $636,000 in total compensation last year with all but about $58,000 of that sum coming in the form of stock awards. Wilson Sonsini provided “minimal legal services” to Luminar and CEO Austin Russell before Martin joined the board, the company said in the filing. Wilson Sonsini no longer does work for Luminar, the company said.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which advised Luminar on its going public transaction with Gores Metropoulos Inc., is now the company’s primary outside corporate counsel. Orrick represented Luminar in December on a $625 million convertible notes offering to help fund share buybacks.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges represented Gores Metropoulos on its combination with Luminar.

(Updated with additional information Gores Metropoulos combination with Luminar.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com