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Magic Leap raising up to $1B in new round (techcrunch.com)
76 points by Stanleyc23 36 days ago | hide | past | web | 61 comments | favorite

I'm guessing they will announce an immersive universe with a lot of pop references to the '80s where you can transact business, go to school, or just adventure :-).

More seriously, the last time a company spent this much money in a vacuum it did not turn out well for them. I'd love to believe they have an idea worth billions but struggle to come up with any plausible way to imagine such a value without major dependencies on a much bigger ecosystem. (see Occulus Rift and the computer gaming industry as an example of inter dependence issues)

Maybe they are building San Junipero (Black Mirror: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Junipero)

Karl Guttag, who’s views I trust in this area, wrote some blogs on the topic a while ago. He was not impressed: http://www.kguttag.com/2016/11/20/magic-leap-separating-magi...

If you want all happiness and butterflies, as well as elephants in your hand and whales jumping in auditoriums, or some tall tale of 50 megapixel displays and of how great it will be someday, you have come to the wrong place. I’m putting the puzzle together based on the evidence and filling in with what is likely to be possible in both the next few years and for the next decade.

> the last time a company spent this much money in a vacuum it did not turn out well for them.

And the one before that, the iPhone, was the most successful product of all time.

The iPhone was not built with venture money. Your comparison does not hold at all.

While I agree the situation was very different, arguably the iPhone was built with venture money.

NeXT did receive venture funding (which obviously became the core os MacOS and iOS). Fingerworks, was also a key acquisition. I can't find any information about the funding Fingerworks received, but being a university spin out it seems likely that they received at least seed funding.

Oh geez, if you want to play the linear game, you can even trace the Android development to the Roman empire.

To put the conversation back in a grounded and reasonable list of arguments, let's start with the premise that technology != business.

So even if the tech that Magic Leap is creating is so great, by the time they go to market, they will be competing with an ecosystem already in place. Apple will have all the apps that have been built with their ARKit (not to mention their App Store monetization strategy). Sony, FB/Oculus, HTC and MS are already at the infancy of developing something serious there. If Magic Leap came out with a product today, they are already starting behind.

If we take in consideration price point, it even becomes a more challenging scenario.

From a risk perspective, incorrect. Its only from the hindsight, where the iPhone development could be perceived as linear, that this is correct.

Fingerworks, and any others, were acquired after risk factors went down. Never forget your own hindsight bias, where the pdf collapses to 1.

You guys remember when Color raised $50m with no product and the valley went ape and started screaming bubble?

Talk about quaint compared to today.

ML has a very serious risk of spending hundreds of millions of dollars over a decade with no customer input building something that will land like Google Glass or a Segway. Then what? Someone like Google has other products and can retreat and regroup, but ML will lose whatever credibility they had and not be likely to recover. It could be very ugly.

Hey, Segway has the mall cop and dorky tours cornered.

Fun to make fun of, but what do their financials look like? Mall cop and dorky tours could be a really good market.

They're not good markets, and even if they were, they fall far short of the Segway's original goals as a mass consumer product. There is a reason Segway is often used as a cautionary tale in product circles, and as as "What not to do" case study in academia.

I remember that they were promoting Segway as the way of the future. That it was going to change the world. They literally said that their device was going to change the world like Ford did.[1]

Fun fact: One of the original promotional videos shows cops using it.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rNw5nI_3iE

And wreck Florida's startup credibility.

Florida has startup credibility?

Florida Company releases revolutionary AR glasses, 4 out of 10 customers go blind


How is this possible? Unless they invented literal world changing technology (they haven't) how are they able to do this? No product, no public demos, what exactly have they done?

Some people have gotten demos. From their point of view there is not "no product".

Presumably the extent to which they've invested reflects the extent to which they believe magic leap has "invented literal world changing technology"

They probably have some awesome demos that require a 10 pound wired headset connected to a renderfarm.

Of all the companies, good for them for raising more. A moonshot to build the metaverse is what a tech startup should be.

> Of all the companies, good for them for raising more. A moonshot to build the metaverse is what a tech startup should be.

I somewhat agree, but wouldn't it create a better environment funding 10 or 100 smaller startups? I know you can argue that "this is just how much it takes to do this". But in my opinion it's more likely that you could reach your goal funding 20 companies with 100MUSD (which is still a huge amount of money, even if you're doing custom silicon).

Are there 20 companies worth funding to that amount? I dont imagine you or I can determine.

They've begun to cover the ground of immersive AR in patents. Maybe that's the value investors are seeing.

Confidence + hype. You're not selling a product, you're selling a dream to investors.

No revenues is exactly why it's possible.

It's a perfect play!

This guy funds.

No revenues is one thing. No product is another.

No demo is the trifecta.

Either great salesmen/hypemen or their private demos are facemelting.

Its the chance to wrap the world in another layer of data, surplanting whoever currently holds acces to the user with another device- and squeezing all those who are engulfed in your reach to become organelles of your ecosystem.

I can tell you that it would have horrible effects in the VC industry and AR/VR specifically if it turns out to be a huge boondoggle.

They've been in the vape business for a while now. Really smart people often have trouble recognizing their blind spots. The result is that smart businesspeople who are't very tech savvy think they are after seeing a slick demo and pour money into bad projects.

The vape business? What product are you referring to, as I'm not familiar with anything they produce related to vapes. It's my understanding that they do not offer any consumer or b2b products at this time.


Ah, vape in the olden sense. Before these infernal kids came along with their juices and atomizers.

That's what I thought too. Now I am pissed I missed out

I cannot think of a similar trajectory for a company that is today a large platform. The big companies of our, and previous, eras began with small products, targeting markets and grew organically and gradually. Stealth had a purpose, but there was a technology serving a market at a relatively early point. Even in semiconductors. There's no precedent for this degree of fundraising, lack of product release and opacity. I can't think of reasons that this is justified when product/market fit is so unproven.

Even if the experience is fantastic, the product flawless, the content engaging -- none of that means that there'll be product/market fit. Iterations will likely be needed. I'll be delighted if it's a big success, and hey it's not my money. But, the systemic signaling (and actual) risk posed by a potential Magic Leap failure on the larger AR/VR community is being sorely underestimated by everyone. And that is worrisome.

By the same token, some of the great failures, frauds, and cons in history did look a lot like this.

I was discussing this in a similar context yesterday in regards to AR/VR. I appreciate the technology/investment and realize it will have a place in the future but there are a great many BUTS.

I think like many things, its primary use will be tied to consumer goods initially. As a great many projects that seem to raise(or make) billions are these days. FB or Google banking billions on advertising, ML/AI used to save corporations money, track customers, create more robust profiles on users/customers to sell them MORE "stuff". I see great value in all these technologies that can truly have a positive impact on the planet but most of it is tied to non-essential consumer goods.

I see some pain ahead for some of these companies and technologies that are tied to non-essential goods/services. Interactive experiences, movies, games, touch your phone on a package and watch magic happen. Really neat tech, but most of it is tied to surplus whether that be time, money or otherwise.

Consumer fatigue will catch up at some point. The cognitive load required to make it through a day is extreme and not necessarily being reduced.

Many companies are doing a great job raising capital but I am just not seeing a positive short term outcome. Part of my argument is tied to the fact that there will be another correction in most markets. When they pull back and billions get pulled out of the consumer slush fund on a weekly basis how important is AR/VR? How lucrative is leveraging ML/AI to sell more consumer goods if the capital isn't there to purchase said goods? At what point do people become numb or blind to the newest "buy my goods/services" technology.

I think some people fail to see that it is the global top 1% of earners building products for the same group and then attempting to convince the lay folk they should buy into all. Maybe the next version of Juicero is simply someone selling an AR organic veggie farming experience to someone who can't afford to pay for their food delivery courtesy of Amazon...I am just struggling with seeing how this story has a good ending.

The first time I saw ML's site I said, "This is some super cool sh*t" and over time I began to try and wrap my brain around where it fits...I am obviously still struggling with that.

Based on the job listings they've had for the past few months I think they're actually building a computing platform. I expect the first iteration to not be as visually immersive as their old homepage lead people to believe (think more like a traditional heads up display, less like a Black Mirror-style AR device), but none-the-less they have the ability to reimagine and transform computing in the way that the original iPhone did. That said there's a large risk they're lost in the dustbin of technology if they can't convince consumers to wear a computer on their face. But potentially getting in on the next iPhone for only a billion dollars is a bet a lot are willing to make.

Yup, pretty sure it is AR headset with a 1-1 virtual earth.


I hear they've found a way to make dollar signs appear in people's eyes, like in cartoons.

Well, if a company can sell an explosive detector to states and make a ton of money out of a tin can with an antenna attached, why not Magic Leap? Always remember the power of the :ADE651


For reference, by the time Uber had raised this kind of money, they already had >$1bn in revenue. How they can keep this thing going on is beyond my comprehension.

Either the technology is so mind-blowing that we'll all be compelled to use it the moment we see it (in a year? two? a decade? what kind of runway are they building with this money?), or this will be the next Theranos.

Why? A company with no products that no one has really seen building something people are living without, sure its worth another Billion. Maybe we will all die in a nuclear holocaust and then it won't matter. In meantime you can have nice parties.

Wow, I didn't know that the company was launched in 2010. 7 years and not a public product? I don't know man. I really hope that it's not just vaporware, would be awesome if they could make something cool.

Most likely this will end like Color or Cuil who had great PR until they actually got to market and immediately faded away. I don't think in computing you can build anything for 7 years without market input.

Cuil had great PR? When?

Color had marketing hype but as far as I could tell no-one outside of VC circles took it seriously.

I remember Cuil when it launched. Ex-Google people starting a next-gen engine. They had the right credentials and everything.

Yeah, I remember it too - it was a joke that had quite possibly the most awful name in the Web 2.0 era (and that was a high bar).

Both Cuil and Color are great examples of people utterly bamboozling VCs into dumping money into an incredibly dumb idea... but I don't know of any good PR that was related to them outside of that (I mean, ffs, Cuil won a "most success startup" award based on it's fundraising. How inane is that?)

The cynical part of me: it's just vaporware... until it isn't.

I think they have something that works, it's just difficult to make it into a product etc..

It doesn't "work" until it's in user hands.

I don't get it.

>This substantial amount of funding has placed Magic Leap firmly in the public eye

pun intended?

Lmfao I just don't understand it. Who is going to buy into this with, as another commenter said, "No product, no public demos, what exactly have they done?" Especially after Juicero and everything else that's been dumb lately?

To be fair, Juicero had the exact opposite problem.

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