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Bulletins

AR startup Magic Leap is looking for a buyer.

After raising around $2.6 billion to build its spatial computer glasses from investors like Google, the company is reportedly exploring a sale.


It's said to have engaged in initial conversations with Facebook that didn't progress further. Sales of the Magic One headset had fallen behind behind expectations.

Martin Cooper with his original DynaTAC cell phone.

Photo: Ted Soqui/Getty Images

Martin Cooper helped invent one of the most consequential and successful products in history: the cell phone. And almost five decades after he made the first public cell phone call, on a 2-pound brick of a device called the DynaTAC, he's written a book about his career called "Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed Humanity." In it he tells the story of the cell phone's invention, and looks at how it has changed the world and will continue to do so.

Cooper came on the Source Code Podcast to talk about his time at Motorola, the process of designing the first-ever cell phone, whether today's tech giants are monopolies and why he's bullish on the future of AI.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

People

Here’s who’s hiring Magic Leap’s laid-off employees

Apple has been ramping up the hiring of AR and VR talent, while Snap is notably absent.

Apple seems to be the most aggressive about hiring augmented and virtual reality talent.

Photo: Chesnot via Getty Images

When Magic Leap put the brakes on plans to launch a consumer-ready augmented reality headset in April, it laid off hundreds of employees, including key engineers working on AR hardware and experiences. Those employees are a prime target for other tech companies looking to bolster their visual computing chops, with one former senior Magic Leap employee telling Protocol that Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft all have been recruiting laid-off Magic Leap staffers.

Among those companies, Apple seems to be the most aggressive about hiring augmented and virtual reality talent. The iPhone maker has been working for some time on its own AR headset, and the CEO of a VR startup recently told Protocol that the company was "ramping up and reaching out to everyone," which is said to include aggressive poaching efforts.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Power

Nreal's plan to beat everyone else to mainstream AR glasses

The Chinese startup is preparing to release $500 AR glasses this year.

Nreal 's forthcoming $500 Light AR glasses may well be the first major market test of consumer-grade AR hardware.

Photo: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chinese startup Nreal thinks it can do what its prominent competitors haven't cracked: produce augmented reality glasses at a price low enough to attract a critical mass of consumers. Its secret weapon? The phone in your pocket.

The company is getting ready to release its $500 Nreal Light AR glasses later this year. With a price tag significantly below that of Microsoft's $3,500 HoloLens headset, as well as the $2300 Magic Leap One, Nreal Light may well be the first major market test of consumer-grade AR hardware.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Analysis

The trouble with Magic Leap

The much-hyped AR startup is reportedly looking for a buyer. What went wrong?

When the Magic Leap One was finally released in 2018, developers didn't quite know what to use it for. Was it an enterprise computing tool, a gaming machine, or the key to a still-to-be-determined Magicverse?

Photo: Chesnot via Getty Images

Revolutionary! Overhyped! The future of computing! A multibillion-dollar failure!

Few companies have elicited as many strong opinions in recent years as has Magic Leap, the augmented reality startup that has raised some $2.6 billion since 2011. Late Wednesday, news that the company may be looking for a buyer gave skeptics some additional ammunition — and made everyone else wonder: What went wrong with Magic Leap?

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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