A new young billionaire has taken the mantle as the “world’s youngest self-made billionaire” after his self-driving technology company Luminar Technologies Inc. (LAZR) went public in December 2020. Some have taken to calling 26-year-old Austin Russell the "next Elon Musk."

Russell has an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion. He was recently featured on Forbes’ "40 Under 40" list for 2021, but he really jumped on the tech scene in 2020 due to the success of Luminar.

Luminar specializes in “lidar technology,” which helps self-driving vehicles detect their surroundings using laser beams to measure distance. Lidar stands for "light detection and ranging." Luminar works with companies like Volvo, Toyota and Intel.

In 2012, Russell dropped out of Stanford to fund his startup at age 17 and after receiving a $100,000 fellowship from billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel. Russell owns about one-third of the company and became a billionaire at age 25 when Luminar underwent a special purpose acquisition company merger deal with Gores Metropoulos.

The Newport Beach, California, native applied for his first patent at 13 and worked at a laser institute at the University of California at Irvine instead of going to high school.

Luminar has a market capitalization of just over $6 billion. Shares of Luminar have taken a hit in the past year. On Dec. 29, 2020, shares of Luminar closed at $32.36. On Tuesday, shares of Luminar closed at $17.10.

Some believe Russell is closing in on Musk's status as a leading tech innovator, though the Tesla CEO may not be pleased with that assessment. In 2019, Musk called lidar technology “stupid, expensive and unnecessary."

Russell has a different opinion.

“I think 50 commercial partners and a majority of the major carmakers we are working with would disagree [with Musk]. Cameras and other systems are great for assisted driving, but with autonomy, that’s where a really high-performance lidar is needed," he told CNBC at about the time the company went public.