Company / division: Magic Leap
Magic Leap Raises Big New Round of Funding (Oct 12, 2017)
Magic Leap, the stealth AR startup based in Florida, has just raised yet more funding, according to a regulatory filing, though the exact amount isn’t yet public. It has an authorization to raise up to $1 billion at a roughly 17% premium to its last round, and Singapore’s Temasek is expected to be one of the investors. That Magic Leap is raising even more money ahead of what’s been widely expected to be a launch late this year is both a sign that its investors are still excited by what they see, and also likely a sign that it isn’t quite ready to launch and therefore start generating revenue yet. Both Magic Leap and a small group of people who’ve seen its product continue to be very bullish about its technology, but it remains tight-lipped about exactly what it’s building, what form its product will take, how it will be priced, or when it might launch. Hopefully that will change soon, because for now gaming-centric headset VR and smartphone-based AR are really the sum total of the combined AR and VR markets, and Magic Leap has the potential to add an interesting new segment to the market.
Bloomberg reports that Magic Leap is trying to raise additional funding, which might include an investment from Singapore’s Temasek fund (which was one of two sources of the money that recently bailed out SoundCloud), and would value it at $6 billion. It also says the company hopes to launch its product within six months, that it will cost $1500-2000, and that it will sit somewhere between glasses and today’s VR headsets in format and require the user to also carry a puck to provide processing. Though the funding is certainly interesting, it’s the other details that are far more interesting to me – those suggest a device which will be out of reach for all but a few consumers if it launches at that price, and which may sit awkwardly between other products in the market, not quite glasses-like enough to be wearable all the time. By all accounts, the technology is pretty amazing, though whether Magic Leap can really squeeze it into a production device with these parameters remains to be seen. But it’s another indication that truly wearable AR is many years away and we’re in for another few years of attempts that fall short in various ways.
Weekly Narrative Video – AR vs VR (May 12, 2017)
This week’s Narrative Video covers the “AR vs VR” narrative, and is available now to subscribers on the AR vs VR narrative page. In this video, I discuss the debate about terminology between AR, VR, and Microsoft’s preferred “Mixed Reality”. But I also talk about the current state of both VR and AR and how I see both playing out over the rest of the year. The narrative has been in the news this week, with Microsoft making announcements about mixed reality at Build, and Magic Leap both reaching out to developers and creatives and allegedly readying another round of funding. If you’re not yet a subscriber, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to see this and other Weekly Narrative Videos, all this week’s posts and the narrative essays, which are exclusive to subscribers.
Magic Leap Invites Developers and Creatives to Get in Touch (May 11, 2017)
There’s not a ton here that’s new about Apple and Facebook’s efforts, but the article does share some new details about Magic Leap, which is said to be getting ready to launch this year at a price point north of $1000. As I’ve said before, for all the complaints from Magic Leap that people are underestimating its technology, until it actually shows more than a few hand-picked people, those complaints are unreasonable. This is a company that has massively hyped its own product (including releasing rendered rather than actual footage) while refusing to share any actual details about its product. There certainly are people (some of them investors) who appear to be very impressed by it, but not until it launches will mainstream tech reporters and others know whether the product lives up to the hype. In the meantime, other companies like Apple and Facebook are ramping up their efforts, and even though Magic Leap may well beat them to market, it’s a small company with no brand recognition, and it will have to blow people away en masse if it’s to take a meaningful lead in the market when it launches.
Magic Leap engineers scramble to finish prototype ahead of February board meeting – Business Insider (Feb 8, 2017)
This and the earlier reporting from the Information and others on Magic Leap have been so powerful precisely because the company combines secrecy and slightly outlandish claims about its future products, which just begs reporters to investigate and dig up this kind of dirt. Magic Leap has almost zero control over its narrative because it refuses to provide any concrete evidence to the broader world about the progress it’s making on its product, while evidence is mounting on the other side that the product is nowhere near ready. The same phenomenon can affect established companies too in areas where there’s widespread reporting about future business the company itself hasn’t commented on – see Apple’s car-centric Project Titan. In the case of Magic Leap, there are quite a few people who say they’ve seen a live demo which was impressive, but one of the key questions continues to be whether the company can deliver that experience in the form factor it claims to be working on, and this story casts some doubt on that idea. I’m not sure there’s any way for Magic Leap to turn the narrative around here unless it starts opening up significantly, something it seems unlikely to do.
via Business Insider
On Creativity and Imagination –Magic Leap (Jan 3, 2017)
This blog post from the founder and CEO of Magic Leap is a clear attempt to reclaim and reshape the narrative surrounding the company since reports began to surface a few weeks back. There has been lots of skepticism – and some “next Theranos” hyperbole – about the company, and it clearly feels the need to fight back. ML definitely invited criticism with its misleading concept videos and and the hype it has deliberately created about a product few have yet seen. Those who have seen it think it’s amazing, so I’m inclined to cut them something of a break, but it’s a useful reminder that hyping yourself too much can easily backfire.
via Magic Leap
Magic Leap has been in the news a lot because it continues to be incredibly secretive about what it’s actually building, its demo videos have turned out to be entirely CGI, and it’s seen some recent executive departures. But this announcement is a sign that as far as the company is concerned, it’s full steam ahead. Magic Leap continues to be one of the biggest (potential) names in AR, while much of the attention is on VR, while Apple also appears to be leaning towards AR, so it’s an important test of whether that bet turns out to be a good one.