Is Magic Leap the Theranos of augmented reality?

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OK, but failing to miniaturize the groundbreaking technology you invented is hardly the same as completely bullshitting the world about the groundbreaking technology you pretended to have invented.


I’d say no. Theranos was pretty clearly (in hindsight) a scam, while this appears to be an engineering failure. At worst, I’d say Magic Leap was overly optimistic about its ability to miniaturize some real tech.

Edit: For the record, the lightfield stuff sounds like marketing nonsense, but is actually a real thing. Imagine a display where the light coming out of each pixel depends on the direction you view it from. It’s like those hologram images that have been around forever, but actually generated by a display.


And, I would say it might well not have been possible to know how hard it would be at the beginning.

Also it might well be possible to miniaturize it, with enough time and money, but the amount of time and money it would take is more than they thought. Theramos’ claims were likely not possible with any amount of time and money.


Hear, hear. It also deserves mention that the technology Theranos was lying about was clinical tests, on which the marks’, I mean customers’ health and life can depend.


Yeah, agreed. If you haven’t read up on the Theranos story, I recommend Bad Blood (by the journalist at the NYT who broke the story originally) because it’s fucking fascinating how bonkers this story gets. Magic Leap is really like, a poster child for VC funding and why it’s good and bad. They have a product, just failing to take that leap (lol) from large to small form, like a lot of battery technology.


I am also not seeing where the issue is here. I mean, people try shit all the time and it fails for one reason or another. They may over-hype their product, they may waste venture capital, they may lay off half their staff, but none of that is fraud.

Now, if Magic Leap had released an augmented reality headset that claimed to use its technology but actually used the same technology that everybody else does, you’d have a case for comparing it to Theranos. Even then the analogy isn’t good, since nobody could do what Theranos claimed to be able to do (including Theranos).


Even if they were deceiving investors about the feasibility of miniaturization or their progress towards such they were not falsifying medical tests. They weren’t even selling customers one product only to have them open the box and find something different. They just made a lot of promises to their VCs they couldn’t follow through with and released underwhelming products into the market. It may be a good example of irrational exuberance of VCs and their inability or unwillingness to figure out if a pitch is BS, but its lacks the distinctive criminality and physical harm of Theranos.


Betteridge’s Law strikes again!


A lot more interesting if you misread it as I did, to wit: Is Magic Leap the Thanos

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Now what’s that law where if a headline asks a question the answer is invariably a “no”? This is clearly a case in point.

Magic leap had a promising (real!) technology which they were unable to productize (horrible word - sorry) with the amount of funding they had.

Theranos had - at the most charitable interpretation - a desire to make a smaller cheaper and more versatile version of existing technology, but their descent into fraud was extremely quick. Bad Blood really is an excellent read for anyone who likes reading about fraud, corporate crime and disaster stories.

So yeah, I call bullshit, along with everyone else.

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Except for all of the bullshit demos that they repeatedly purported to be real.

So… did you guys really play that WETA demo around the office?

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… I might have played a couple of rounds in my lab area. That game is amazing definitely one of the best examples of what the ML1 could do.

One of the first indigogo campaigns I ever backed had a similar path

This had the same issue - the prototypes work but are huge, and they were never able to minimize the tech down to something practical.

If anything, I think it says more about the investors pushing for the company to get their product out even without their marquee technology to try and recoup some investment than anything else.


I believe the comparison is that they raised a ton of investment capital by promising something they’ve so far failed to deliver. I agree though that it’s not quite the same as Theranos, which actually told investors the product existed and faked demonstrations of it to get more funding. Theranos committed actual fraud. No one from Magic Leap is going to jail for failing to deliver the product the promised unless they did something else besides breach a contract.

No contract was breached. That’s what the “venture” in “venture capital” means. You’re taking your chances.

In fact, not only was no contract breached, I don’t even think there’s any evidence that any claims or representations were made to investors in bad faith.

I have no idea whether ML was contractually obligated to deliver anything to anyone, investors or otherwise. I also don’t know if they got all their investment funding from VCs. My point is that even if they had a contract to deliver something and failed, it’s still not fraud and still not a crime. And therefore still not the Theranos of augmented reality. There’s a very good chance Holmes and Balwani could face jail time. Personally I’m looking forward to their trial. :slightly_smiling_face: :popcorn:

No idea. I’m not privy the details of ML’s relationship with it’s investors. If you are, and not under NDA, then I’m all ears.

Called it 4 years ago:

Quora: Which startups are the next Theranos (I.e. Highly funded, but essentially unsustainable and have no credible product or service)?

Compare this gem of a quote from Elizabeth Holmes when asked to describe her technology:

“a chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.”

with this quote from Magic Leap’s CEO Rony Abovitz when asked to do the same about his technology:

“it’s a three-dimensional wafer-like component that has very small structures in it, and they manage the flow of photons that ultimately create a digital light-field signal.”

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