Peggy Johnson, the former executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, has been named as the new chief executive of Magic Leap, the company said in a statement.
Johnson, who will begin her new role on August 1, 2020, comes to Magic Leap after a 30-year career in the technology industry.
It’s been a tumultuous 2020 for Magic Leap. Struggling to survive amid a cash crunch and facing bankruptcy, the company laid off most of its staff in April and was casting around for a white knight investor to come in and keep the company afloat. While the Paradise, Florida-based company found the $375 million in funding it needed, according to The New York Times, that investment came at the price of Rony Abovitz’s position as chief executive.
Abovitz, whose vision for the future of spatial computing managed to rake in over a billion dollars in funding, was a consummate hype man whose products failed to deliver on the promises they’d held.
In Johnson, Magic Leap has a proven executive who joined Microsoft in 2014 from Qualcomm as an executive hire made by chief executive Satya Nadella. There, she ran business development and had a hand in a number of the company’s major acquisitions and partnerships, including the $26.2 billion blockbuster acquisition of LinkedIn. The 58-year-old Johnson also launched Microsoft’s venture capital fund (known as M12).
At Magic Leap, Johnson will take the reins of a company whose direction has shifted to focus more on businesses than on consumers — a strategy that mirrors approaches taken both by Microsoft’s HoloLens extended reality product and by early wearable tech progenitor Google Glass.
“Since its founding in 2011, Magic Leap has pioneered the field of spatial computing, and I have long admired the relentless efforts and accomplishments of this exceptional team. Magic Leap’s technological foundation is undeniable, and there is no question that has the potential to shape the future of XR and computing,” said Ms. Johnson.
Before joining Microsoft, Ms. Johnson spent 24 years at Qualcomm, where she held various leadership positions, and served as a member of Qualcomm’s Executive Committee.
“As a company that has been a leader in transforming what will become the next era of computing, we have been fortunate to have a number of extremely qualified candidates express interest in the position of CEO. However, as soon as Peggy raised her hand there was no question in my mind, or the Board’s, that she was absolutely the best person to lead this company into the future,” said Abovitz in a statement. “As Magic Leap drives towards commercializing spatial computing for enterprise, I can’t think of a better and more capable leader than Peggy Johnson to carry our mission forward.”