Hello readers, and welcome back to Week in Review!

I talked about the future of the newsletter last week. I will be winding down my time authoring the Week in Review newsletter in the coming weeks as I start sending out a brand new newsletter for TechCrunch called Chain Reaction, which will be focused on all things metaverse, with all of its ridiculousness.

The weekly newsletter will have a weekly podcast attached to it, which I will share more details on soon.

As I pass the baton to my colleague Greg Kumparak, Week in Review will continue to be sent to a couple hundred thousand subscribers. It would mean a lot if you pre-subscribe to the newsletter so that you get the newsletter on day one. You can do it on the newsletter page. Please!

Now that my groveling is out of the way, you still have me for a few more weeks so let's get to the meat of this week's update. Remember Magic Leap? I chatted with the company's CEO about the startup's wild ride and tried out their new headset. Let's talk about it.

the big thing

I spent an hour or so playing with the Magic Leap headset this week, while talking with Magic Leap CEO and other members of their executive team. Despite the fact that Magic Leap is on the road to delivering a very fascinating device, the broader industry has remained stagnant since the company revealed its first device five years ago.

Magic Leap has been in public humiliation for the past few years, which has slowed the progress of an industry that was supposed to be the successor to mobile phones.

The Florida startup raised billions in venture capital funding on the promise of bringing a new technological future to consumers, much more impactful than the launch of the iPhone. When it finally launched its first product after years of delays, secrecy and hype, tech watchers didn't like it because it failed to deliver on many of the claims made by the startup's eccentric founder Rony Abovitz. The Information reported that the company sold just 6,000 of the devices in the six months after it was released.

Magic Leap's previous marketing strategies were great for driving a lot of attention to the company, but not great for setting realistic expectations.

The company was forced to lay off half of its employees in April 2020 and was left begging for bridge funding which it raised at a reportedly massive discount to stave off a shutdown. Abovitz stepped down from his role and a former Microsoft executive was brought in to turn the company around.

Johnson told me that he had to rebuild credibility when he came in.

Johnson brought me in to show off the Magic Leap 2, the company's new headset, after 18 months on the job.

I spent around 20 minutes with the new headset, which is lighter in weight, has a remote control input device, and a heavy belt-worn compute pack. The expanded field-of-view is the main feature of the device and it nearly doubles the visual area inside the glasses. The headset is an improvement over its predecessor.

The device is still in development and they were trying out some new software features which will hopefully be better when the device ships this summer. I was impressed with the device, it feels like the best augmented reality device on the market. Even if this had been their first iteration, it would not have lived up to the expectations that Magic Leap's executives had set for the initial device.

Magic Leap grants healthcare startups access to its new AR headset ahead of mid-2022 release

Over the years, I've written a dozen stories on Magic Leap, and I've written many stories on the broader AR/VR industry. The AR industry has been at a standstill in public for a long time. Dozens of startups were taken down because of the failure of mobile augmented reality development. The future of enterprise use doesn't feel particularly bright to me because there aren't many hardware players and there isn't much of a software development scene anymore.

In the space we are going after, it is really just us and Microsoft.

Magic Leap is in a lonely position, as Microsoft seems to run into hiccups with its multi-billion dollar military contract and reports say is perhaps even losing interest in launching a new version of HoloLens. On the consumer side, there is more to be optimistic about as both Facebook and Apple are rumored to be working on a mixed reality device. As Apple prepares to release a consumer headset, Magic Leap CTO Julie Larson-Green seems skeptical of what they could possibly release.

I still don't understand what the consumer scenarios are that get you outside of gaming. I don't need more things to distract me. I'm excited to see what Apple thinks.

Seven years after raising $542M at a $2B valuation, Magic Leap raises $500M at a $2B valuation

Adam Mosseri at TechCrunch Disrupt

other things

I think you should take a closer look at these stories.

Russia says it will block the photo sharing website.

This was a busy week when it came to companies leveraging a wave of private market sanctions against Russia. While plenty of big tech platforms have aimed to roll back the presence of Russian state media on their platforms, Russia has taken particular aim at Meta shuttering Facebook and announcing this week that they intend to shut down Instagram access in the country as well.