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John Carmack called Magic Leap "overhyped" - data shows he's wrong

4 months ago by Jared Russo in Startups
id founder and Doom creator John Carmack

Doom co-creator John Carmack (and video game legend for co-founding id Software) believes augmented-reality startup wunderkind Magic Leap ($MAGICLEAP) is overrated, according to his very own words from the Joe Rogan Experience. His criticisms lie mostly in the fact that AR isn't ready for prime time just yet — the glasses are too big, and that walking around with an AR processing box strapped to one's person isn't socially acceptable.

But Magic Leap likely doesn't care what John Carmack (who, incidentally, is heavily leveraged in Oculus, Facebook's virtual reality technology that is, in many ways, a market competitor for technology that involves strapping displays one one's face) has to say, as all of its alternative data points to massive growth.

In August of 2016, the company had 600+ employees. By the same point in 2017, that number had doubled. And now, they're sitting at nearly 2,000 at counting. Clearly Magic Leap does not consider themselves to be overhyped, but when we look at the job listings, we can see that hiring is not as neat a climb up like in these other charts.

Since Magic Leap is AR and not VR, it doesn't compete with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. But it does match up with Microsoft's Hololens and the products Facebook / Apple / Google are working on behind the scenes. Here is how Facebook is commited to this future technology:

Despite both graphs having a spike downwards, the differences are still stark when you consider Magic Leap is a company only invested in AR and Facebook is decreasingly interested in it. 

Social media

VR and AR are consumer tech, both used for professional, medical, and entertainment purposes. If such an expensive device can keep these kinds of numbers trucking up over the years, that means people are still interested, engaged, and could be possible buyers once there's more software available.

The Twitter following doubled from 2016 to 2018, and could hit 100K in 2020 with enough buzz.

The same thing happens on Facebook, a doubling quickly and then 100K being a reasonable goal they could hit soon. Ironically, Facebook is invested in its own VR headset and brand, which Carmack happens to be a part of. The only quibble we can make with these increasing social media charts is Facebook likes is at a plateau. Magic Leap still regularly posts, but maybe Facebook marketing isn't the best place to highlight a device that directly competes with an asset owned by the platform you're using to market your competing product.

At least we can't blame Daikatana on Carmack, that honor goes to John Romero.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Jared Russo

Jared is an editor for Thinknum, and has been writing for more than a decade. He previously worked at AOL, Vice, Google, Dotdash, and Sirius XM.

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