New Magic Leap CEO strengthens enterprise expertise

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Magic Leap moved quickly to appoint a new chief executive officer and in Peggy Johnson the spatial computing company’s investors can be satisfied that it has a leader who understands enterprise customers

Quick read

➨ Peggy Johnson, who is executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, will take the helm of Magic Leap on 1 August
➨ She is a shrewd choice for Magic Leap, as the spatial computing company continues its pivot to enterprise and looks to close the key strategic partnerships that were announced when Abovitz stepped down
➨ Magic Leap’s future is firmly in the enterprise market, after laying off a significant portion of its workforce and securing new funding

The story

Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson has been lined up to replace Rony Abovitz as chief executive officer of Magic Leap.

Johnson, who is executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, will take the helm of the company on 1 August.

She is a shrewd choice for Magic Leap, as the spatial computing company continues its pivot to enterprise and looks to close the key strategic partnerships that were announced when Abovitz stepped down

Her role at Microsoft saw her oversee Microsoft’s relationships with external partners and enterprises, and she led the company’s corporate venture fund, M12, where she identified strategic investment opportunities.

Johnson said she has long-admired Magic Leap for its “relentless efforts and accomplishments”.

She said: “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.”

That future is firmly in the enterprise market, after laying off a significant portion of its workforce and securing new funding.

Johnson said her focus will be on “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”.

She continued: “It is with great pride and sincere appreciation to the Magic Leap board, Rony and the entire team, as well as to Satya Nadella at Microsoft, that I assume the role of leading this visionary business into the future.”

Abovitz, founder and Magic Leap’s first chief executive officer, is in discussions to secure a new role at board level.

When announcing his exit as chief executive officer in May, Abovitz said that he and the board had come to the decision that Magic Leap’s move into the enterprise market required new leadership.

“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,” Abovitz said.

“As Magic Leap drives towards commercialising spatial computing for enterprise, I can’t think of a better and more capable leader than Peggy Johnson to carry our mission forward.”

Abovitz continued: “We have come a long way, from starting up in my garage to creating a new medium and redefining the future of computing. Now, under Peggy, who brings with her to Magic Leap three decades of experience identifying and executing strategic partnerships at the highest levels of business, Magic Leap can take another giant step forward in our journey.”

“On behalf of the Magic Leap board, I want to thank our investors for their continued support and partnership. We have strong confidence and belief in Peggy’s ability to lead Magic Leap forward as the Company focuses on commercial success.”

Johnson is certainly a chief executive officer that Magic Leap’s investors, which have committed more than $2 billion to the spatial computing company, can get behind. Indeed, she is likely their choice.

Before joining Microsoft, Johnson spent 24 years at Qualcomm, where she held various leadership positions across engineering, sales, marketing and business development.

At the top of its announcement, the spatial computing company described Johnson as a “veteran tech executive”.

That description gets used a lot, but there is no doubting Johnson’s credentials and experience. And as an engineer by education and trade, she’ll possess the innovative streak that an immersive tech leader requires.

The test for Johnson will be whether these enterprise customers materialise and, crucially, whether the remaining team can breathe new life into Magic Leap 1.

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Main image: Peggy Johnson, currently executive vice president of business development at Microsoft