Broward-based virtual reality company Magic Leap has named a new CEO to replace outgoing founder and CEO Rony Abovitz.
Peggy Johnson, who will assume the top role in August, most recently served as executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. According to a Magic Leap representative, Johnson will likely remain in California “until COVID allows” her to come to Magic Leap’s headquarters in Plantation.
Abovitz announced in May he’d be stepping down amid a company pivot away from consumer uses for its technology and toward more commercial ones. Abovitz, who had been with the company since its founding in 2011, helped it raised more than $3 billion on the hopes that its augmented reality lenses, which lets users add three-dimensional objects to their field of vision, would catch on with the broader public.
But those hopes have largely failed to materialize. In an April note announcing layoffs, Magic Leap said that while the company and its backers “still believe in the long-term potential” of its intellectual property, “the near-term revenue opportunities are currently concentrated on the enterprise side,“ meaning business-use cases.
There have been conflicting reports about the exact number of layoffs. Tuesday, the New York Times reported the company had laid off 600 of its 1,900 global workforce; other outlets have reported as many as 1,000. A Magic Leap representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At Microsoft, Johnson managed Microsoft’s relationship with the venture capital community and oversaw strategic investments through the company’s corporate venture fund, known as M12.
“As CEO, I look forward to strategically building enduring relationships that connect Magic Leap’s game-changing technology and pipeline to the wide-ranging digital needs of enterprises of all sizes and industries,” Johnson said in a statement on Magic Leap’s website.
Magic Leap declined to make Johnson available for an interview.