Magic Leap, the augmented-reality startup that has yet to find a viable business model, hired a new CEO: Peggy Johnson, previously Microsoft’s head of business development.
Johnson will start at Magic Leap effective Aug. 1, 2020, the company announced. She takes over for Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, who stepped down as CEO amid the company’s pivot away from consumer-oriented AR toward business applications and a wave of layoffs earlier this year.
Johnson is tasked with bringing “transformative enterprise solutions to market,” Magic Leap said in announcing her hire. The AR company has raised almost $3.5 billion to date but has found little commercial success. Magic Leap’s investors include the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, AT&T, Alphabet (Google’s parent), NTT DoCoMo, Alibaba Group, Warner Bros., and Legendary Entertainment.
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“Since its founding in 2011, Magic Leap has pioneered the field of spatial computing, and I have long admired the relentless efforts and accomplishments of this exceptional team,” Johnson said in a statement. “Magic Leap’s technological foundation is undeniable, and there is no question that has the potential to shape the future of XR and computing.”
Abovitz claimed that Magic Leap considered “a number of extremely qualified candidates” who expressed interest in the job. “However, as soon as Peggy raised her hand there was no question in my mind, or the board’s, that she was absolutely the best person to lead this company into the future,” he said in a statement.
In 2018, Magic Leap launched the Magic Leap One, a wearable device designed for developers priced starting at $2,295. The “mixed reality” system lets users see and interact with virtual objects and content, superimposed over their real-world view. In April, citing disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Abovitz said Magic Leap would table its plans for a consumer version of the AR headset to concentrate on business applications.
At Microsoft, Johnson most recently was EVP of business development and was a key member of the team leading the $26.2 billion deal for LinkedIn (Microsoft’s biggest-ever acquisition). She also oversaw M12, Microsoft’s corporate venture investment fund. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2014, she spent 24 years at Qualcomm, where she held various leadership positions at the chip maker across engineering, sales, marketing and business development.
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