27-Year-Old Tech Billionaire Gives Elon Musk A $40 Million ‘Fuck You’

forbes austin russell world's youngest self-made billionaire luminar technologies tesla lawyer alan prescott

Austin Russell – the world’s youngest self-made billionaire and founder of self-driving startup Luminar Technologies – has taken competing against Elon Musk to the next level by poaching former Tesla lawyer Alan Prescott.

According to Bloomberg, in exchange for accepting his new post as Luminar Chief Legal Officer, Prescott was offered an eye-watering compensation package valued at approximately US$30 million / AU$41.15 million. That’s US$29.5 million / AU$40.47 million in stock awards, US$205,700 / AU$282,200 cash in hand, plus another US$50,000 / AU$68,600 bonus, the company’s 10-K filing has revealed.

“Having previously worked on high-level positions at companies like Ford and Uber, Luminar says that Prescott’s pay package is fitting for his level of experience,” reports Mahnoor Khan of Fortune.

“Prescott was also joined by two other lawyers – Katharine Martin and Alexander Phillips – who received compensation packages as high as $636,000 in 2021.”

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But who exactly is Austin Russell? And how exactly is he taking on both Elon Musk and Tesla?

Some of you may recall his name when it was plastered across headlines last year. At the fresh-faced age of just 26, this prodigious college dropout dethroned Kylie Jenner to become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire by Forbes; the latter of whom’s “self-made” status had already been called into question before she faced removal from the list entirely due to inflated figures in the submitted documents.

Austin Russell spent his teen years researching at the University of California at Irvine’s Beckman Laser Institute, before deciding to study physics at Stanford University. It was there the “optics prodigy” developed the idea for his future startup, Luminar Technologies. Luminar would eventually produce lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors for self-driving cars. Fun fact: back in 2019, the Tesla CEO called lidar technology “freaking stupid… expensive and unnecessary.” Russell, on the other hand, obviously held a different opinion.

In 2012, after securing a hefty $100,000 fellowship from Peter Thiel – co-founder of PayPal, longstanding member of the PayPal Mafia, and Facebook’s first outside investor – Russell opted to skip higher education in favour of going all-in on Luminar Technologies. When the company was listed via SPAC merger (NASDAQ: LAZR) in December of 2020, Austin Russell went to sleep a genius and woke up a billionaire… placing him in prime position to get back at Elon Musk for badmouthing lidar two years later by going Tesla lawyer shopping.

In the coming years, either Russell or Musk will deliver superior self-driving tech.