Augmented reality: but who is Magic Leap, the secret company that seduces the tech giants?
It is a company which has a culture of secrecy and which does not stop raising funds. The American start-up Magic Leap had already conquered Google last year, which had participated, as the main investor, in a fundraising of more than 540 million dollars. Other participants included other large investment funds well known in the technology sector, such as Andreessen Horowitz (who has invested in Pinterest, Airbnb…), Qualcomm or Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Soon valued over $ 3 billion?
An impressive amount that seems despite everything not sufficient for this company which would now seek to raise $ 827 million, according to Forbes. The names of the investors are not yet known, but this transaction could value it at $ 3.7 billion, which would make it de facto a “unicorn”, that is to say a start-up not listed on the stock exchange capitalized at more than 1 billion dollars.
She would thus join companies like Delivery Hero, Jawbone or Zenefits, each valued between 3 and 4 billion dollars. But unlike the latter, whose products and services are clearly known and identified, Magic Leap only reveals information in the accounts of its activity.
This start-up is developing augmented reality technology, which offers a device to display virtual images on a very real vision (unlike virtual reality, like Oculus Rift). On the Magic Leap site, we can see a slight overview of what the company is working on. We discover a video shot in a sports hall where, suddenly, a whale jumps before plunging again, under the eyes of a surprised audience.
Former Vevo CEO in the team
A technology that Magic Leap could adapt for other purposes, in particular to support its users on a daily basis. In March, a video posted on YouTube by the company hinted at what a video game under Magic Leap could look like. The user plays on what appears to be his workplace, a life-size environment. Virtual images then appear on his real vision of the place he occupies. Another video shows an individual contemplating the solar system.
Magic Leap could therefore be of interest to the entertainment industries (video games, cinema, media, etc.). Moreover, Legendary Entertainment, an American production company, participated in last year’s round table. And Rio Caraeff, the former CEO and co-founder of Vevo, the online music video specialist who works in partnership with YouTube and several music majors, has joined Magic Leap as director of content.
But Magic Leap’s technology could potentially be used to develop solutions for other industries. Moreover, Rony Abovitz, its founder, had co-created in 2004 Mako Surgical, a Florida-based company specializing in medical devices which is now listed on the stock exchange. In any case, Magic Leap has not provided precise information on its ambitions and other web giants are taking a keen interest in virtual reality technologies.
Alibaba interested in Magic Leap?
Microsoft is developing HoloLens, for example. This pair of holographic glasses allows 3D models to appear on the user’s view. The Redmond group has released a video showing how Volvo engineers can use the helmet for their jobs, or its usefulness on vehicle assembly lines.
Technologies that are of interest far beyond the borders of Silicon Valley. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant which continually seeks to diversify its sources of income, has entered into discussions with Magic Leap to invest around $ 200 million, reported in October. the Re / code site. Neither the Florida-based start-up nor Jack Ma’s firm wanted to confirm this information to the American site.
But how to explain that Magic Leap raises so much money from private investors? Rony Abovitz, the founder and CEO of the start-up, gave a clue at a conference in June. The company is said to have developed a technology that is difficult to imitate: “There’s no off-the-shelf stuff used. That’s the reason for the amount of capital we’ve raised», He declared.