Magic Leap managed over the course of its years-long development to rake in a stupid amount of money, which—in addition to what now seems like an excessive degree of secrecy—helped drum up questionable hype for its technology. The company’s own executives didn’t exactly do much in the way of helping to calm the tech world’s sky-high expectations. Now, it appears the company is back-pedaling.
Speaking with the New York Times for an interview on securing $280 million through a partnership with Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo, Magic Leap’s founder and CEO Rony Abovitz told the paper that the company may have let the hype escalate to an unreasonable level, adding that now the company’s “job is to continue to manage expectations.”
After raising more than $2 billion in funding, this seems like an odd time to pivot to tempering expectations—but hey, better nearly a decade late than never, right?
The partnership will make DoCoMo the single Magic Leap telecom partner in Japan, according to a Friday announcement. The two companies will work together on developing “an immersive media platform utilizing the next generation of Magic Leap devices and DOCOMO’s 5G network,” and will partner on tailoring Magic Leap’s operating system to a Japanese market.
“The partnership between Magic Leap and DOCOMO combines the power of spatial computing with Japan’s premier mobile operator to deliver radical innovation to co-presence, communications, commerce, productivity, sports, media and entertainment,” Abovitz said in a statement. “As DOCOMO advances the power of its network and technology for tens of millions of customers, its partnership with Magic Leap will help deliver capabilities and experiences never thought possible.”
Magic Leap was founded in 2010, and to say that it was initially fawned over by the tech world would be putting it lightly. But that overblown hype has since cooled after people were actually able to get their hands on Magic Leap’s technology and found it to be, hm, let’s say less than revolutionary.
Even still, the company managed to secure a staggering $2.3 billion to date last year—now with hundreds of millions to add—in part thanks to funding from its distribution partner AT&T as well as the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s government-run investment fund. (Interestingly, the latter was a topic of funding Abovitz declined to comment on in his Times interview, presumably due to ongoing controversy involving the Saudi government.)
According to the paper, Abovitz’s company is set to reopen its recent funding round and may be looking at additional investments. All I can say at this point is good luck.