back to article We're all stuck indoors, virtual reality tech should be hot. So why is Magic Leap chopping half its workforce?

The bubble appears to have finally burst on augmented-reality darling Magic Leap, with its CEO announcing on Wednesday he was slashing its workforce in half. This comes after the startup abandoned its consumer focus to instead target enterprise. “To better prepare Magic Leap for the future, we have taken a close look at our …

  1. cornetman Silver badge

    Sounds a lot like Theranos.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As it's not a medical product, it's nowhere near as evil as Theranos. Also it was more obviously a scam.

      Still scummy, obviously. The best you can say is "a failed experiment also reveals something".

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        I don't know if the difference is quite so large as you suggest.

        With Theranos, I have no doubt that the original intention was to produce the testing device as claimed. The problems came when it became obvious that it wasn't as easy as was originally envisaged, at which point the rot set in and, well, we now know how that went.

        In the case of Magic Leap, I see no reason to doubt that they do want to produce the system that was initially envisaged. Again, it is a HARD problem. Publicly they are massively over-promising and under delivering. Whether that could be called fraud really depends on whether or not they are actually lying to investors as they obviously were at Theranos. That may well not be the case, but you have to wonder.

  2. Imhotep

    All Publicity Is Good Publicity

    With each article, Mr McCarthy probably has Magic Leap convinced that they could probably do with a little less of a good thing.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the startup has consistently over-promised and under-delivered"

    It's when the lies became obvious (the fake videos) that my confidence deflated. Not that I had had much confidence to start with.

    I have always been wary of virtual reality. I already see no interest in motion blur - when I move my mouse fast enough there's already enough blur, thank you.

    That said, I am willing to admit that Augmented Reality might be an interesting idea, just like Apple was not wrong when it first tried to interest people in tablets. The Newton failed because the hardware was just not up to the job. Microsoft failed after that, and only when Apple finally made the iPad did Microsoft finally pull off the Surface (and that, only in the 3rd iteration).

    In other words, I can imagine that Augmented Reality will be a thing, but that will only happen when the glasses have a battery charge that can support a full day's work - and that won't happen until our modern "smart" phones can last more than 12 hours without desperately needing a top-up.

    Because if technology cannot give us a 200 gram slab of communication that can last more than 12 hours without a recharge, then how can Magic Leap be expected to deliver a product that can not only deliver a highly graphically-intensive product (something that phones do not promise), but also package it into something that hipsters can wear in the streets ?

    It ain't possible. I'm sorry for all the certainly intelligent people that have spent a good portion of their life on this, but it just ain't feasible.

    That said, Abovitz still deserves to hang. A liar is a liar.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: "the startup has consistently over-promised and under-delivered"

      I think Mr. Abovitz has been wearing a set of Magic Leap goggles continuously for 5 years.

      This has augmented his own reality field.....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    JPMC and their other creditors have taken their patents as collateral. Short of finding a buyer the remainder of the company is functionally worthless. If I were in the remaining 50% of staff yet to be fired I'd be prepping my resume.

  5. Starace
    Alert

    Decent AR, at a price

    The Varjo XR-1 does a pretty good job of AR, none of those stupid optics either - the optical combiner route is just never going to work well enough to really 'augment' reality.

    Then again it is properly 'incredibly expensive' at €12k to get one in your hands. Plus the cost of something with enough grunt to drive it.

    Excellent toy though if you're able to talk someone into buying one for you for 'development'.

  6. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    Targeted change

    “To better prepare Magic Leap for the future, we have taken a close look at our business and are making targeted changes to how we operate and manage costs,”

    A "targeted" change is to fire half of your workforce?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Targeted change

      "To better prepare Magic Leap for the future, we have told half our staff to 'Hop it'".

      FIFY

      Personally, I find the world around me, sufficiently real and interesting to have no need for Augmentation or Virtualisation.

  7. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Ooh I know!

    Is it because Magic Leap is toss?

  8. redpawn Silver badge

    Have to believe it is magic

    Should sell here in the good old US of A as nearly half of the population believes in magic and can be fooled by charlatan again and again, even at the cost of their own or their family's lives. Hydroxychloroquine anyone?

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    We need an El Reg mocking synonym for Magic Leap

    "Tragic Leap" seems like the best option, but I am open to other suggestions.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Very likely those patents will end up in the hands of those attempting to collect rent from anyone who can actually produce technology that works.

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    All about the intellectual property

    "The IP portfolio means that when someone does finally crack AR’s tough technical issues, whoever holds Magic Leap’s patents will be able to demand healthy royalty payments."

    Mostly because the USPTO operation is totally broken.

    1) Nothing to do with Software should be allowed. That's covered by copyright.

    2) There should be a higher charge for rejections, about x10 higher than acceptance.

    3) There should be proper search of Prior Art.

    4) Nothing easily cooked up by anyone expert in the field.

    5) Most things should have a prototype.

    6) No business processes or franchises.

    7) Nothing essentially based on maths. i.e. FM radio should have not had patents.

    Also stop calling cosmetic design / shapes a Design Patent. They should either be copyright or Registered designs because of a unique appearance, like the fluted coca-cola "coke" bottle. Not simply rounded corners.

    The present system is biased in favour of companies with teams of patent lawyers and a small amount of technical people doing almost no research and less development. It also encourages companies to buy up and destroy companies just for the IP. See Google and Qualcomm acquisitions.

    The USPTO makes money from accepting applications and doesn't "waste" money on Prior Art searches. Their theory is that existing IP holders will sue in court and get the invalid patent thrown out. Except that favours rich USA Corporations and Lawyers.

    The fake IP also aids offshoring via fake royalty payments (Starbucks, Apple etc).

    Edison hounded people over stuff he patented which was already invented elsewhere. Eventually the US Government had to invalidate his "motion picture" patents. The US has known about this problem for over 100 years, but chooses to favour the biggest USA corporations rather than small companies or consumers or foreign companies.

  12. fredesmite

    Magic Leap is a sweat shop

    I've been contacted more than once to work there .. They only hire "contract to hire " which means that don't pay bonus, profit sharing , stock hire-on , benefits, PTO , or unemployment insurance .. they get free development work for 12 hrs .. then move on to the next sucker that believes their lies

    NEVER JOIN A Hi_TECH COMPANY AS CONTRACT TO HIRE

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