Magic Leap appoints former Microsoft exec Johnson as CEO

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Magic Leap has appointed Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson as its new chief executive officer, replacing Rony Abovitz.

Johnson was previously executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. In an interview with the New York Times (NYT), she said the time was right amid the Covid-19 pandemic to explore the promise of spatial technology, comparing it with the early bubble of cellular technology and cloud computing.

“It just feels to me that it’s at that same moment in time,” said Johnson.

Magic Leap has undergone a somewhat turbulent time over the past few months, with the company announcing major layoffs and a move towards the enterprise and hardware markets in April.

Having released its original Magic Leap One Creator Edition headset in August 2018 to good critical response, albeit reportedly slow sales, the company’s much-vaunted Magic Leap 2 product has not been forthcoming. In a blog post explaining the job losses at the time, Abovitz noted the changes were necessary to advance Magic Leap’s technology, as well as ensure delivery of its second-generation headset.

One area where the company continues to succeed, however, is in accruing investment. Magic Leap had secured $1.8 billion in funding by October 2017, leading many to suggest the eventual product launch a year later was not before time. In May, multiple outlets confirmed that Magic Leap had received additional funding to the tune of $350 million.

In spite of the stormy waters facing the company, the fact it can attract an executive of the calibre of Johnson to take over the top role is a boon. “It really says something that, at this point in time, I would leave Microsoft to go to this space,” she told the NYT.

Johnson will start her new role on August 1, with Magic Leap saying in a statement that she will ‘draw on more than 30 years of experience at the highest levels of technology and business to accelerate Magic Leap’s growth and bring transformative enterprise solutions to market.’

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