It’s official: Magic Leap, the secretive Florida startup developing a “cinematic reality” device, has raised $793.5 million in new funding in what might be the largest “C” round in Internet history. “This will give us the confidence and the depth to think past our launch and make longterm decisions,” said CEO Rony Abovitz today.
Many believe Magic Leap’s technology—along with a handful of competing VR and AR products—will usher in a sea change in how we use computers.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba led the round, and executive vice chairman Joe Tsai will take a seat on the company’s board. Tsai joins Google CEO Sundar Pichai; both Google and Qualcomm were early investors who also joined the latest round. New investors include Warner Brothers and a slew of financial institutions, including Fidelity and J.P, Morgan. The new funding will give Magic Leap a post-money value of $4.5 billion.
Abovitz says the funding will allow the company to get its product to market faster, and to develop a strategic relationship in the Chinese market. “We are really accelerating everything,” said Abovitz, who added that Magic Leap is moving into supply chain operations and noted some parts of the device are already being built in a factory not far from the company’s headquarters in Dania Beach, Florida. “All of that is being sped up.” He wouldn’t share a date for when Magic Leap’s products would be available to consumers.
A Sea Change
Many believe Magic Leap’s technology—along with a handful of competing virtual and augmented reality products—will usher in a sea change in how we use computers. By placing sensors everywhere and processing the volumes of data they produce, it’s possible to create better immersive environments and believable layers of digital images on top of the physical world. Facebook, Samsung, and Microsoft are creating competing technology and have chosen to make their headsets available even as they’re engineering the products. Google is also beefing up its virtual reality team, and Apple is also reportedly getting into the action. Magic Leap claims to be using a different technology to achieve its effect, and it’s keeping its efforts mostly secret.
The company has made converts out of many of those who have seen demos. New Zealand design studio Weta Workshops has teamed up with Magic Leap to build games. Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson joined the company as its chief futurist. Last fall, Google led a $542 million investment, bringing its previous funding total to $592 million. But so far, it hasn’t been clear when Magic Leap’s tech will be available for consumers.
Now Magic Leap will have plenty of cash to develop its product. Even large “C” round fundraises are often less than half the amount of money Magic Leap has raised. GV, formerly Google Ventures, led a $258 million round in Uber in 2014; a year prior, Founders Fund led a $200 million investment in Airbnb. Back in 2007, Microsoft injected $240 million into Facebook.
Abovitz already has a proven track record as an entrepreneur. In 2013, he sold his company, Mako Surgical, for $1.65 billion, turning his attention the passion project he’d been cooking up with a high school friend for years, Magic Leap. Today, the company has offices in New Zealand, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Mountain View, California, but its headquarters remain in Dania Beach, Florida, where Abovitiz resides.