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Magic Leap PR chief follows CMO to the exit door

Mixed reality startup suffers two exec departures in quick succession, the latest following an exposť on the firm's progress

Magic Leap has lost its chief marketing and PR executives in the space of six weeks, just as the secretive startup is facing tough questions about the validity of its loftiest goals.

The company's VP of public realtions has departed for another stealthy startup headed by Andy Rubin, who is best known as the founder of the Android mobile platform. Recode's initial report has been confirmed by Magic Leap, and Fouche has updated his Linkedin profile to reflect that his new role is head of communications at "Andy Rubin stealth startup."

That Fouche's destination was Rubin's new company is significant, because that's also where Magic Leap CMO Brian Wallace reportedly headed when he stepped down in November - per Recode. In its statement about Fouche, Magic Leap said that its new CMO is Brenda Freeman, a veteran of DreamWorks Animation, Viacom/MTV and Turner Broadcasting among others.

"As we sprint full steam ahead toward the launch of Magic Leap One, we are excited to have Brenda Freeman on board as our Chief Marketing Officer," the company said. "We are creatively aligned. She has already brought fresh energy, excitement, unbounded joy and opportunity to those who choose to play on our team."

Indeed, it can be argued that we know more about Magic Leap's team - which has made a string of big-name hires, including the author Neal Stephenson and veteran game designer Graeme Devine - than we do its much discussed but little seen product. The firm's technology has impressed investors to the tune of some $1.4 billion in funding so far, but its grand ambitions are now under more scrutiny than ever before.

A recent article from The Information has used testimony from several insider sources to examine the gap between the promise of Magic Leap's technology and the reality. The report claimed that the company is unprepared to launch a consumer device - despite stating in July that it is in "go mode" - and that some of the videos it said were shot with Magic Leap technology were in fact created by a third-party studio.

There are now major questions about what, exactly, "Magic Leap One" will be, adding to a growing sense of disappointment around VR and AR technology. Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz responded to The Information's piece indirectly, publishing a blog post a day later enthusing about the company's progress, which he listed as follows:

  • "We have completed our first PEQ (Product Equivalent) build of our target form factor, in our new facility."
  • "We are about to start a much bigger PEQ run, which will exercise our supply chain and manufacturing/quality operations."
  • "The units we are building now are for engineering and manufacturing verification/validation testing, early reliability/quality testing, production line speed, and a bunch of other important parameters."
  • "There is also a lot more going in our development of software, applications, cool creative experiences and overall operational readiness."

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