Rapid7 is acquiring DivvyCloud for $145M to beef up cloud security

Rapid7 announced today after the closing bell that it will be acquiring DivvyCloud, a cloud security and governance startup for $145 million in cash and stock.

With Divvy, the company moves more deeply into the cloud, something that Lee Weiner, chief innovation officer says the company has been working towards, even before the pandemic pushed that agenda.

Like any company looking at expanding its offering, it balanced building versus buying and decided that buying was the better way to go. “DivvyCloud has a fantastic platform that really allows companies the freedom to innovate as they move to the cloud in a way that manages their compliance and security,” Weiner told TechCrunch.

CEO Corey Thomas says it’s not possible to make a deal right now without looking at the economic conditions due to the pandemic, but he says this was a move they felt comfortable making.

“You have to actually think about everything that’s going on in the world. I think we’re in a fortunate position in that we have had the benefit of both growing in the past couple years but also getting the business more efficient,” Thomas said.

He said that this acquisition fits in perfectly with what he’s been hearing from customers about what they need right now. “One area of new projects that is actually going forward is how people are trying to figure out how to digitize their operations in a world where they aren’t sure how soon employees will be able to congregate and work together. And so from that context, focusing on the cloud and supporting our customers’ journey to the cloud has become an even more important priority for the organization,” he said.

Brian Johnson, CEO and co-founder at DivvyCloud says that is precisely what his company offers, and why it should fit in well with the Rapid7 family. “We help customers achieve rapid innovation in the cloud while ensuring they remain secure, well governed and compliant,” he said. That takes a different playbook than when customers were on prem, particularly requiring automation and real-time remediation.

With DivvyCloud, Rapid 7 is getting a 7-year old company with 70 employees and 54 customers. It raised $27.5 million on an $80 million post-money valuation, according to PitchBook data. All of the employees will become part of the Rapid7 organization when the deal closes, which is expected to happen some time this quarter.

The companies say that as they come together, they will continue to support existing Divvy customers, while working to integrate it more deeply into the Rapid7 platform.

Source: Tech Crunch

Apple adds COVID-19 testing sites to Maps across the U.S., and shares more mobility data

Apple has now added COVID-19 testing sites to its Apple Maps app across the U.S., covering all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The update provide testing locations including hospitals, clinics, urgent car facilities, general practitioners, pharmacies and more, as well as dedicated COVID-19 testing sites, where tests are available. In addition, COVID-19 is now a prioritized point-of-interest option when you go to search for locations. Apple also updated its new Mobility Trends website, which provides free access to anonymized, aggregated data bout how people are getting around their cities and regions during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Maps update was reported last week, first spotted by 9to5Mac through a portal that Apple created in order to allow test site providers to provide their site location so that it could be added to the database. Now, it’s live and lives alongside other prioritized search options in Maps, which have been customized for the pandemic, and which include grocery stores, food delivery, pharmacies, hospitals and urgent care facilities.

As for the Mobility Trends site, it now includes improved regionalization, like state or province level search, depending on what terms a country uses, and it’s also been better localized, including use of a area’s local name added to search results to ensure that everyone can find what they’re looking for globally. Also, in the U.S., there are now more cities available to review.

Apple’s made this data available in order to help governments, transportation authorities and cities make better sense of the impact that the ongoing pandemic is having, and potentially provide information about the effective of, and compliance rate with, efforts like broad social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders. The data comes from info about what methods of directions users are selecting within the Maps app, but it’s worth noting that Apple’s Maps app has privacy built-in by default, so it doesn’t collect any personal information along with guidance search info.

Source: Tech Crunch

Bonsai raises $1.5M to help students get professional guidance via virtual 1-on-1s

As the world continues to lean more heavily on remote collaboration technologies, investors and entrepreneurs are growing more curious about how behavioral shifts will impact the future of work and education.

Bonsai, a new online platform virtually pairing students and young professionals with mentors in professional fields, is launching today with fresh funding. The startup’s founder and CEO Patrick Sullivan previously founded a pair of IP-management startups, one of which sold to Google, the other to Facebook.

“I felt the fundamental problem with job searching wasn’t the job offerings, because they’re democratized and everyone has access to those, but if you don’t have access to a network with the right information or the right guidance, you’re never going to crack that job entry point,” Sullivan told TechCrunch. “Particularly looking at getting jobs at a company like Google, that’s like a whole science.”

The platform is largely oriented around 1:1s, Sullivan doesn’t intend the platform to turn into a Masterclass-esque one-to-many instruction platform though he has seen interest from colleges in doing fireside chats with speakers.

Bonsai is aiming to scale slowly for now, ensuring that the students and young professionals who are onboarded to the platform are matched with the right network of resources on Bonsai’s end. The team has facilitated over 100 virtual meetings to date. Sullivan says that his company is in discussions with several colleges who can help market their services for an affiliate commission.

On the pricing side, Sullivan says that consultations cost an average of $50, a quarter of which goes to Bonsai.

The network of those giving professional advice relies pretty heavily on personal connections of Sullivan, who says that since the pandemic crisis began, there’s been much more inbound interest in doing pro bono work. Fundamental to the service is balancing paid services for those who can afford them with free services for those who can’t.

“We don’t want to charge inner city kids who don’t have access to the same opportunities, but obviously people that are from more affluent backgrounds are willing to pay for that access.” Sullivan says.

Bonsai’s team announced today that they’ve locked down $1.5 million in pre-seed funding from a network of angels including leaders at Google, Facebook and Columbia University.

Source: Tech Crunch

Dear‌ ‌Sophie:‌ Will a PPP loan‌ affect my visa renewal or green card?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

“Dear Sophie” columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Dear‌ ‌Sophie:‌ ‌ ‌

I’m a tech founder on an ‌E-2‌ ‌investor‌ ‌visa.‌ ‌Will‌ ‌receiving‌ ‌PPP‌ ‌funding‌ ‌count‌ ‌against‌ ‌me‌ when I renew my E-2 or file my I-485 for my green card given‌ ‌the‌ ‌“Public‌ ‌Charge”‌ restrictions?

— E-2 Employer ‌in‌ Emeryville ‌


Dear‌ ‌E-2‌ Employer,

Thank you for starting a business in the United States and for your efforts to keep your team employed. Since the federal government increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) last week, your question is timely.

Source: Tech Crunch

Lost item finder Tile expands partnership with Comcast, as Apple’s competitor looms

Bluetooth-powered lost item finder Tile is expanding on its two-year old partnership with strategic investor Comcast to help customers find misplaced items around their home. The two companies had first announced their intention to partner in early 2018 and later that year introduced a way for Comcast users to locate lost items using their Xfinity X1 Voice Remote. Now, Comcast is adding more set-top boxes and xFi Gateways into the mix as access points.

The companies announced today that select Comcast X1 and Flex set-top boxes as well as xFi Gateways will be able to work as extensions to the Tile network. Specifically, this includes the newer Xfinity devices like the xFi Advanced Gateway, and Xi5, Xi6, and XG1v4 devices, Tile tells us.

What this means Comcast’s boxes can supplement or even take the place of the Tile mobile app in terms of being an access point used to look for a lost Tile device, when an item goes missing.

This could be useful for those who don’t have the Tile app installed on their phone, whose phone is not within easy reach or has run out of battery, as well as for those those who just want the added convenience of having another way to search for their lost item.

Previously, Comcast Xfinity customers could use their X1 voice remote to see a Tile’s last-known location on the screen. Now, not only can Comcast users ring their Tile directly, the Flex set-top boxes and xFi Gateways can also work as finding extenders in the home.

Tile devices themselves come in a variety of form factors, including keychain or luggage dongles like Mate and the more powerful Pro, a Slim device ideal for wallets, and Tile Sticker for anything else — like laptops, bikes, tools, cameras, and more. In the home, Tile devices are often used to find small items like car keys, purses, or even a child’s favorite toy that’s always getting misplaced.

Alongside the support for Comcast boxes, the companies also updated the existing X1 remote functionality to include a new feature to directly ring missing items. Now, customers can say things like “Xfinity Home, find my keys” to have the Tile make its distinctive ringing sound so the lost item can be found.

“The average person spends about 15 minutes a day looking for lost items,” said Tile CEO CJ Prober, in a statement about the expanded partnership with Comcast. “We’ve been working with Comcast to alleviate this daily disruption. By allowing Comcast Xfinity customers to use their xFI Gateways and X1 and Flex set-top boxes as finding extenders, the Tile network becomes stronger and ensures users will quickly and easily find lost or misplaced items, bringing convenience to their daily routine,” he said.

Tile claims to now locate some 6 million items daily across 195 countries worldwide, with a 90% success rate in finding lost items. To date, it has sold 26 million Tile devices.

However the company is preparing to face steep competition. Apple has effectively confirmed its plans to release a Tile competitor called Air Tags that are more deeply integrated into its iOS operating system and have special privileges that aren’t offered to third-party apps. Tile has gone on the offensive about Apple’s plans, arguing to Congress that Apple’s behavior is anti-competitive and needs regulation.

This month, Tile told a congressional panel that Apple has failed to live up to promises aimed at resolving their dispute, noting Apple did not reinstate the “Always Allow” background permission. This permission would allow Tile to compete on a more even playing field with Apple’s own “Find My” app, which doesn’t have to continually remind users that it’s using their location data like third-party apps do. Tile also spoke about how Apple planned to allow its own Air Tags to use UWB (ultra-wideband) for better location finding, but not open that up to competitors like Tile.

The fight for regulation will be a long-term battle. In the more immediate future, Tile’s partnerships are how it will continue to grow its customer base and device usage.

In total, Tile now works with over 20 partners across audio, travel, smart home and PC categories.



Source: Tech Crunch

Stay-at-home order for 7 million Bay Area residents extended to end of May

A stay-at-home order for seven San Francisco Bay Area counties will be extended through the end of May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision that affects 7 million residents and thousands of businesses.

The Public Health Officers of the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara as well as the City of Berkeley said in a joint statement issued Monday that it will issue revised shelter-in-place orders later this week. The new order will ease some specific restrictions for what the health officers from the seven counties described as a “small number of number of lower-risk activities.”

The stay-at-home orders were set to expire May 3. Details regarding this next phase will be shared later in the week, along with the updated order.

The seven counties are home to thousands of startups and technology companies that includes Apple, Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Twitter, Tesla and Uber.

“Thanks to the collective effort and sacrifice of the 7 million residents across our jurisdictions, we have made substantial progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, ensuring our local hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, and saving lives,” the health officers said in a joint statement. “At this stage of the pandemic, however, it is critical that our collective efforts continue so that we do not lose the progress we have achieved together.”

The public health officials said Monday that hospitalizations have leveled, but more work is needed to safely re-open communities and warned that “prematurely lifting restrictions could lead to a large surge in cases.”

The health officers plan to also release a set of broad indicators used to track progress in preparedness and response to COVID-19, in alignment with the framework being used by the rest of the state.

Source: Tech Crunch

Indie.vc founder Bryce Roberts: Profitability is ‘more achievable than a Series A round’

Despite all evidence to the contrary, there’s more to building a startup than raising venture capital.

Founders are finding success without overly relying on VC dollars; some are even sharing profits with their respective employees and customers without the help of traditional funding and Silicon Valley power dynamics.

As some investors slow down their funding pace, it has become clear that profitability trumps funding and venture capital can only take a startup so far when the economy tanks and outside cash streams dry up.

In the Indie.vc portfolio, profitability is its driving force. In fact, its main criterion for funding is that a startup must be on a clear path to profitability with durable fundamentals like high gross margins or the ability to start charging for a product right away, as opposed to companies that need a significant amount of upfront investment for research and development.

Profitability, Indie.vc founder Bryce Roberts tells TechCrunch, needs to be a habit, and founders need to recognize that it’s not a switch they can just turn on. Startups looking to prioritize profitability need to start out as revenue-driven businesses that replace funding milestones with profitability goals.

“Genuinely, it’s not rocket science,” he says. “Profitability isn’t this crazy, elusive thing. It’s literally more achievable than a Series A round. It’s way more achievable than a Series B round. If you look at the kind of fall-off between those rounds, most entrepreneurs would be better off finding their path to profitability and scale.”

Indie.vc, which recently announced its latest batch of investments, advises founders to make sure they have what they need to be stable and then to create and measure value, Roberts says. That value, which differs depending on the company, must be quantifiable as some metric or revenue.

To do that, Roberts says founders should adopt a mindset where they’re focused on creating revenue opportunities, rather than cost savings. Indie.vc’s model also does not prioritize hiring ahead of growth, a strategy that seems to be working for its portfolio during the pandemic.

Source: Tech Crunch

Understanding Duolingo’s quiet $10M raise

Earlier this month, edtech unicorn Duolingo raised $10 million in new venture capital from General Atlantic, per an SEC filing. With the raise, the online language learning platform accepted its first outside investor in almost three years. General Atlantic will take a board observer seat at the company, per Duolingo.

The company, which was last valued at $1.5 billion, says the round has increased its valuation, but it declined to share by how much.

General Atlantic has invested in a number of edtech companies around the world, like OpenClassrooms, Ruangguru and Unacademy. Duolingo said that General Atlantic’s global platform and experience with online education in Asia would help guide its own growth, specifically pointing to its plans to scale up the Duolingo English test.

The e-learning company last raised $30 million in December at that $1.5 billion valuation. To raise a smaller sum a few months later is uncommon. Historically, that type of raise could happen for a number of reasons: a company is accepting a later investment as part of the same funding round, it needs more cash and this is an easy way to raise it or the company tried to raise a new large round and failed to secure past $10 million.

So where does the language learning unicorn fit?

In Duolingo’s case, it said the $10 million was raised because it wanted to bring a new investor on, but didn’t need a massive amount of primary capital. Duolingo says it is cash-flow positive.

In the past few weeks, Duolingo launched a new app to help children read and write, passed one million paying subscribers for Duolingo Plus and disclosed that its annual bookings run rate is $140 million. The company also recently hired its first CFO and general counsel.

“Because our business has been growing very fast and we have more than enough capital, there was limited need for us to raise more primary capital. However, over the last year, we developed a relationship with General Atlantic,” the company said in a statement to TechCrunch.

Tanzeen Syed, a managing director for General Atlantic, said that Duolingo is a “market leader in the language learning space. Syed also said Duolingo has a “profitable, efficient business model while maintaining hyper-growth characteristics.”

Another key factoid here is that along with the $10 million, there was a larger secondary transaction, which occurs when an existing stockholder sells their stock for cash or to a third party, or to the company itself while the company is still private.

In this case, an existing investor in Duolingo sold a small portion of their existing stake to allow General Atlantic to have a bigger stake in the company.

The company declined to share the size of the secondary market transaction.

In light of this new information, Duolingo’s expansion to Asia, which has a robust market of English learners, welcomed one investor and lessened the stake of another.

Based on what we know, the transaction signals that a preexisting investor in Duolingo was looking for liquidity at a time where the public markets are tightening and private markets are pausing. And at a time when companies are staying private longer than ever before, secondary transactions are hardly rare.

Sometimes, however, secondary transactions signal a lack of faith from a preexisting investor in the company’s current trajectory.

Duolingo is full steam ahead on its goal to expand across the world — and now has new cash in the bank, and a new observer seat on the board, to prove it.

Source: Tech Crunch

Josh Constine leaves TechCrunch for VC fund SignalFire

How do you leave the place that made you? You figure out what it made you for. TechCrunch made me a part of the startup ecosystem I love. Now it’s time to put that love into action to help a new generation of entrepreneurs build their dreams and tell their stories.

So it’s “TC to VC” for me. After 8.5 years at TechCrunch and 10 in tech journalism, I’m leaving today to join the venture team at VC fund SignalFire. I’m going to be a principal investor and their head of content.

I’ll be seeking out inspiring new companies, doing deals (when I’m eventually up to speed) and providing pitch workshops based on countless interviews for TechCrunch. Thankfully, I’ll also still get to write. We’re going to find out what founders really want to learn and produce that content to help them form, evolve and grow their companies. I’m doing my signature bounce & smile with excitement.

Where to follow my writing

You’ll still be able to follow my writing as well as my journey into VC on my newsletter Moving Product at constine.substack.com as well as on Twitter: @JoshConstine. No way I could just suddenly shut up about startups! If you’re building something, you can always reach me at joshsc [at] gmail.com

On the newsletter you can read a deeper explanation for why I picked SignalFire . I also just published the first real issue of Moving Product on how quarantine is “loaning” concurrent users to startups that will help the new wave of synchronous apps snowball to sustainability, plus commentary from top product thinkers on Facebook’s new Rooms.

Why I chose SignalFire?

I was drawn to SignalFire because it’s built like the startups I love writing about: to solve a need. Entrepreneurs need tactical advantages in areas like recruiting, where they spend most of their time, and expert advice on specific problems they’re facing.

SignalFire CEO and founder Chris Farmer

That’s why SignalFire spent six years in stealth building its recruitment prediction and market data analysis engine called Beacon. It can spot deal opportunities for SignalFire’s new $200 million seed and $300 million breakout funds while helping the portfolio hire smarter. Then SignalFire assembled more than 80 top experts, like Instagram’s founders, for its invested advisor network. Traditional funds need partners to exhaust their social capital asking for favors from friends to help their portfolio. SignalFire’s model sees its advisors share in the returns of the fund, so they’re sustainably motivated to assist.

SignalFire’s founder and CEO Chris Farmer was also willing to invest in me, figuratively. I’ve written about thousands of startups but I’ve never funded one. He and his team have offered to mentor me as I learn the art and science of investing. They also accept me for my opinionated, outspoken self. Instead of constricting my voice, the plan is to harness it to highlight new ideas and proven methods for building companies. I wrote this post on my newsletter with a deeper look at why I picked SignalFire and how its modernized approach to venture works.

What makes TechCrunch different

Of the 3,600 articles I’ve written for TechCrunch, this was the hardest.

TechCrunch gave me the platform to make an impact and the freedom to say what I believe. That’s a rare opportunity in journalism, but especially important for covering startups. TechCrunch writes about things that haven’t happened yet. There are often no objective facts by which to judge an early-stage company. Whether you decide to cover them or not, and the tone of your analysis, depends on having conviction about whether the world needs something or not, if the product is built right and if the team has what it takes.

If you rely on others’ signals about what matters, whether in the form of traction or investment, you’ll be late to the story. That means editors have to trust their writers’ intuition. At TechCrunch, that trust never wavered.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 04: (L-R) Snap Inc. Co-founder & CEO Evan Spiegel and TechCrunch editor-at-large Josh Constine speak onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Eric Eldon, Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino put their absolute faith in our team. That gave me a chance to write the first-ever coverage of startups like Robinhood before its seed round, and SnappyCam before it was acquired by Apple and turned into iPhone burst fire. My editors also never shied away from confrontations with the tech giants, like my investigation into Facebook paying teens for their data that caused it to shut down its Onavo tool, or my exposé on Bing suggesting child abuse imagery in search results that led it to overhaul its systems.

I met my wife Andee at a TechCrunch event. [Image Credit: Max Morse]

I’ll always be indebted to Eric Eldon, who gave a freshly graduated cybersociologist with no experience his first shot at blogging back at Inside Facebook. Editors like Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino helped me develop a more critical voice without sterilizing my personality. And all my fellow writers over the years, including Zack Whittaker and Sarah Perez, pushed me to hustle, whether that meant pontificating on new product launches or exposing industry abuse. If my departure from journalism elicits a sigh of relief from the companies in my cross-hairs, I know I did my job. The TechCrunch business and events team have turned Disrupt into the tech industry’s reunion. I appreciate them giving me the chance to learn public speaking, from the most heartfelt moments to the cringiest. And really, I owe them the rest of my life, too, since I met my wife Andee at a Disrupt after-party.

Treating writing like a sport to be won kept me cranking all these years, and I’m grateful for Techmeme offering a scoreboard for extra motivation. I’ll unhumbly admit it’s nice to hang up my jersey while ranked No. 1. My gratitude to Jane Manchun Wong for furnishing so many scoops over the years, and to all my other sources. It’s been fun competing and collaborating with my favorite other reporters, and I know Taylor Lorenz, Casey Newton and Mike Isaac will keep a close eye on tech’s trends and travesties.

But most of all, I want to extend an enormous thank you to…you. To everyone who has read or shared my articles over the years. I woke up each day with a sense of duty to you, and felt proud to say “I fight for the user” like Tron. What makes this industry special is how the community refuses to treat it as zero-sum. We grow the pie together, and everyone knows their competitor today could be their future co-founder. That makes us willing to share and learn together. I believe no recession, correction or bubble-burst will change that. 

BERLIN, GERMANY – DECEMBER 12: Group Photo on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2019 at Arena Berlin on December 12, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

So I’ll leave you with a final thought that’s made my life so fulfilling: If you have the privilege or create the opportunity, turn your passion into your profession.

Specialize. Learn. Then make what you want. If you can find some niche you’re endlessly interested in, that’s growing in importance, and at least someone somewhere earns money from, you’ll become essential. Not necessarily today. But that’s the beauty of writing — it teaches you while proving to others what you’ve been taught. No matter what it is, blog about it once a week. In time you’ll become an expert, and be recognized as one. Then you’ll have the power to adapt to the future, however feels most graceful.

Keep up with my writing on my newsletter at constine.substack.com, stay in touch on Twitter, and reach out at joshsc [at] gmail.com

Source: Tech Crunch

Magic Leap’s $2.6 billion bait and switch

Two years ago I attended an “Innovation in Immersive Storytelling” event at Industrial Light & Magic, featuring the Chief Game Wizard of Magic Leap. I should have known then, from all the strained corporate sorcery in that sentence, that their demise was inevitable. But in fact I went into that talk a Magic Leap skeptic, and came out … less so.

Magic Leap drew in a lot of true believers over the years; $2.6 billion worth. Investors included Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Google (not Google Ventures — Google itself) and many many more. Sundar Pichai joined Magic Leap’s board. And did they rave. I mean, it’s a VC’s job to rave about their portfolio companies, but this was different:

Now there is something new. Not just an order-of-magnitude more pixels or a faster frame rate, but – thanks to sensors and optics and mobile phone volumes and breakthroughs in computer vision – something I always dreamed of … The product is amazing … this is different

Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins.

It was incredibly natural and almost jarring — you’re in the room, and there’s a dragon flying around, it’s jaw-dropping and I couldn’t get the smile off of my face

Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull

Legendary and a16z had previously invested in Oculus Rift. Tull even told TechCrunch “Magic Leap takes a completely different approach.” This is especially interesting because when Magic Leap finally — finally, after 5 years and $1.6 billion — released a product, Oculus’s Palmer Luckey wrote a truly scathing teardown of the Magic Leap One. Again, yes he would do so … but the details are quite striking …

They call it the “Lightwear”. This is the part that has gotten the most hype over the years, with endless talk of “Photonic Lightfield Chips”, “Fiber Scanning Laser Displays”, “projecting a digital light field into the user’s eye”, and the holy-grail promise of solving vergence-accommodation conflict, an issue that has plagued HMDs for decades … TL;DR: The supposed “Photonic Lightfield Chips” are just waveguides paired with reflective sequential-color LCOS displays and LED illumination, the same technology everyone else has been using for years, including Microsoft in their last-gen HoloLens. The ML1 is a not a “lightfield projector” or display by any broadly accepted definition

What happened to that “completely different approach?”

It’s worth noting there was some spin-that-more-than-verged-on-deception going on. Magic Leap sent an email to press with a video and the claim “This is a game we’re playing around the office right now”; subsequently, The Information revealed that entire video was F/X, created by Weta Digital.

ML then released another video “shot directly through Magic Leap technology on 10/14/15, without the use of special effects or compositing.” Was that true? Definitely a question worth asking, in light of what had happened with the previous video. But all things considered, the answer seems to be: “probably.” See also Kevin Kelly’s sparsely detailed megafeature on ML for Wired in 2016:

All three major MR headsets rely on images that are projected edgeways onto a semitransparent material—usually glass with a coating of nanoscale ridges. The user sees the outside world through the glass, while the virtual elements are projected from a light source at the edge of the glass and then reflected into the user’s eyes by the beam-splitting nano-ridges. Magic Leap claims that its device is unique in the way it beams light into the eye, though the company declines to explain it further at this time.

How to square this with Luckey’s — so far as I know, undisputed — report that Magic Leap’s mega-hyped “Lightwear” technology is nothing even remotely special? To say nothing of their compete failure to release a product which sparked anything remotely like the same joy or enthusiasm that its internal demos sparked in investors and journalists?

The answer is straightforward: “The Beast.”

As The Information’s Reed Albergotti revealed more than three years ago, “The Beast” was Magic Leap’s original demo box. It was everything people said. It was stunning, dreamlike, breakthrough technology. And it weighed “several hundred pounds.”

“The Beast” was followed by “The Cheesehead,” which fit on a human head, and “showed they could miniaturize the light field signal generator they’d invented” … but still weighed “tens of pounds,” obviously far too heavy for any real-world applications. (There are pictures of both in the linked CNET piece.)

“The Beast” and “The Cheesehead” help explain the multiple rounds of massive venture investment. But then — could Magic Leap miniaturize their breakthrough technology further, to anything actually releasable?

Clearly they could not, and that’s the crux of the matter, the answer to how and why Magic Leap raised $2.6 billion dollars, then laid off half its employees, while hardly releasing anything at all in seven years. To quote Vanity Fair quoting The Information quoting CEO Rony Abovitz:

The technology behind The Beast is “not really what we’re ultimately going to be shipping,” Abovitz told The Information, adding that prototypes were merely good for showing investors and others “what was good about it, what was not.”

Intended or not–I assume it wasn’t–Magic Leap became a $2.6 billion bait-and-switch, the consequences of which are now all too apparent.

Why are people still giving Magic Leap Money?” our own Lucas Matney asked a year ago. Their device sales were terrible. Last month they sought an acquisition for a $10B price tag Josh Constine rightly called “crazy.” Then they laid off half the company and pivoted to enterprise. Now the question we’re asking is “What happens if Magic Leap shuts down?

Will “The Beast”‘s technology eventually make its way into living rooms and dorm rooms and offices? Maybe. Was that a notion worth betting $2.6 billion on over six years starting in 2014? Another maybe. But it was a bet that did not pay off. Ultimately, Magic Leap’s story isn’t one that should feed outrage, or anger, as much as sheer sadness that hardware is so hard, and that human senses — especially sight — make for such a challenging development platform.

Source: Tech Crunch