Tesla's top lawyer has left Elon Musk's company for a 26-year-old billionaire's self-driving startup

Tesla's top lawyer has left Elon Musk's company for a 26-year-old billionaire's self-driving startup
Ben Margot/Associated Press
  • Tesla's acting general counsel has joined the self-driving-car startup Luminar Technologies.
  • Alan Prescott, who joined Tesla in 2019, will lead Luminar's legal team.
  • An Intel executive, Trey Campbell, also joined the startup, it said.

Tesla's top lawyer, Alan Prescott, left the electric-car company to join Luminar Technologies, a startup that develops laser sensors for self-driving cars, Luminar announced Wednesday.

Prescott - who had served as Tesla's acting general counsel since 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile - will be the chief legal officer at Luminar.

Prescott has worked on several projects involving autonomous vehicles in his career. Before his stint at Tesla, he spent a decade at Ford and later served as senior counsel for Uber's autonomous-driving unit.

Luminar listed on the Nasdaq stock market via a reverse merger in December, making its 26-year-old CEO, Austin Russell, a billionaire virtually overnight.

The company's sensors have been used to create self-driving cars at companies like Volvo and Toyota. The technology relies on lidar, which uses pulses of light to create a 3D map of a car's environment, allowing it to determine the best course and avoid obstacles.


Prescott "understands the challenges and nuances of operating in both the autonomous driving space and in the automotive industry more broadly, and we look forward to his insights and expertise as we continue to scale our business and accelerate the expansion of our product and commercial roadmaps," Russell said in a press release.

The Tesla executive's decision to move to Luminar is interesting given Tesla CEO Elon Musk's philosophies about self-driving tech. In 2019, Musk described Luminar's technology, used by most other self-driving-car firms, as "doomed." Instead of lidar, Tesla relies on a suite of external cameras and other sensors for its autonomous-driving efforts.

Prescott is not the only major executive to join Luminar recently. Trey Campbell, formerly the head of investor relations at Intel, will lead Luminar's investor relations, Luminar said.