Magic Leap, which has been in stealth mode since its inception, recently announced that it had raised a $793.5 million Series C round led by Alibaba Group. Existing investors Google Inc, Qualcomm Ventures, Legendary Entertainment, KKR, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz, Obvious Ventures, and others also participated in this round.
Image credit: Magic Leap
New investors in this round include Warner Bros, Fidelity Management and Research Company, J.P. Morgan Investment Management, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and Wellington Management Company.
Magic Leap was founded by Rony Abovitz. Prior to starting Magic Leap, Rony was the co-founder and head of development and technology for MAKO Surgical, which was acquired by Stryker Corp. for $1.65 billion in December, 2013.
While not much is known about Magic Leap, their website offers insights into the work they are doing in augmented reality with a few visuals like a whale suddenly appearing and diving at a basketball court, a miniature elephant floating in the palm of a person's hands. The website explains, "Using our Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal, imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world."
Back in 2014 the company had raised a $542 million Series-B round led by Google Inc and others. Including their $50 million Series A round, Magic Leap's total funds raised till date is an astounding $1.39 billion and the company has yet to ship any products to the public. Talking about the investment, Rony, Founder, President, and CEO of Magic Leap, Inc said,
At Magic Leap we are creating a new world where digital and physical realities seamlessly blend together to enable amazing new experiences. This investment will accelerate bringing our new Mixed Reality Lightfield experience to everyone. We are excited to welcome Alibaba as a strategic partner to help introduce Magic Leap’s products to the over 400 million people on Alibaba’s platforms.
“We invest in forward-thinking, innovative companies like Magic Leap that are developing leading products and technologies,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman at Alibaba. “We believe Alibaba can both provide support to and learn from such a partner, and we look forward to working with the Magic Leap team.”
The virtual and augmented reality market is expected to be worth $1.06 billion by 2018. Experts further categorise this market into 'dedicated augmented reality (AR)', 'immersive virtual reality (VR)' and mobile-based AR and non-immersive VR.
Microsoft has shown an interest in this sector and last year announced the launch of its wearable - a holographic computer, 'Hololens' - that integrates high-definition holograms to integrate with the user's real world. Facebook on the other hand had acquired immersive virtual reality headset maker, Occulus Rift for $2 billion. The product was recently launched to the public and Mark Zuckerberg has been talking about how it could be integrated with Facebook to make the video experience more immersive.
The use cases for augmented and virtual reality technologies are immense and in diverse categories such as education, sports, gaming, entertainment, medicine, manufacturing and more. But it will probably take many more years for this technology to be perfected by developers and make it to the mainstream audience.
Having raised about $1.39 billion in funding while still being in stealth mode has probably raised a lot of eyebrows and made many wonder what technological breakthroughs the company has not yet made public. It will be interesting to see how and when Magic Leap makes their technology available for mainstream consumption and what impact it will have on existing technologies and industries.
Website: Magic Leap
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