Apple's Acquisition of AR Startup Leap Motion Fell Through Twice, Due to 'Eccentric' Founders and Poor Management

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    A new article by Business Insider today takes a look into failed talks that occurred between Apple and startup Leap Motion, which the Cupertino company tried to acquire twice in less than five years. Leap Motion is a company that focuses on making advances in the fields of virtual reality, augmented reality, and hand tracking technology.

    According to multiple unnamed insiders, the most recent deal was nearing completion in spring 2018 before poor management, "swirling negatives," and "eccentric behavior" of Leap Motion's young co-founders Michael Buckwald and David Holz halted the talks.


    Prior to that, in 2013 the first meeting was held between the two companies and things reportedly went very poorly after Holz -- then 24 years old -- said he had no interest in joining Apple. Sources say Holz was insulting to Apple's staff, told the company representatives that Apple was no longer innovative, its technology "sucked," and discussed the ways that Google's Android was better than iOS. During this time, Apple was said to have been mainly interested in Leap Motion's team to help work on its own AR and gesture-based projects.

    Despite this poor first meeting, Apple continued to express interest in acquiring Leap Motion in the ensuing years, particularly as augmented reality and virtual reality technologies began to be more mainstream. Some of Leap Motion's original employees even left the company to work for Apple over the years, and are now helping with Apple's various AR projects, some former Leap Motion employees said.

    The latest rumors point towards Apple developing AR smart glasses, which could potentially include a VR component. Apple's interest appears to lean more towards AR, since it has already backed AR as a service with the ARKit developer platform, and CEO Tim Cook often talks excitedly about the potential of AR.

    Because of this, Apple made another attempt to acquire Leap Motion earlier this year, but talks fell through once again. Apple was on the verge of acquiring Leap Motion for between $30 million and $50 million in the spring, and had already started talks with the startup's human resources department and sent out offer letters to employees. As Leap Motion celebrated the upcoming acquisition, Apple pulled its offer.

    Business Insider says it remains unclear why exactly Apple made this move at the last minute, but one thing appears certain: "the founders ultimately thought [Leap Motion] was more valuable than the offers on the table."
    Now, Leap Motion is said to have new meetings lined up to explore other potential deals outside of Apple's offer, but it may be too late for the startup. According to sources familiar with the company, Apple's latest bid for Leap Motion was the AR/VR company's "last-ditch opportunity" to sell the business, which has faced financial instability for years.

    Apple makes acquisitions of smaller companies like Leap Motion all the time, with news coming just in the past month of Apple acquiring Asaii and Spektral. Asaii is a music analytics platform that Apple will likely integrate into Apple Music and iTunes, while Spektral creates real-time green screens that can intelligently separate people and objects from their original backgrounds to overlay a new setting, which could be integrated into a future iPhone.

    Article Link: Apple's Acquisition of AR Startup Leap Motion Fell Through Twice, Due to 'Eccentric' Founders and Poor Management
  2. GadgetBen macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2015
    What a model example of a human being Holz is.......
  3. UnionVGF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2013
  4. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
  5. iapplelove macrumors 601


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA

    Sounds like some days here on MR lol wonder if he is a member ?
  6. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Didn't I already see this covered in a season of Silicon Valley?
  7. Raketemensch macrumors member


    May 17, 2013
    I got to use a Magic Leap the other day, and it’s pretty astounding.

    Most of the push has been around nifty little novelties, but 30 seconds into using real AR glasses and you realize how life-altering they will eventually be, in most every facet of your life.

    Having a few desktops open and floating in space, but perfectly readable, while still being able to see and converse with people around you is amazing.

    Whether Leap or Apple or Google or whoever is the company to bring it to us, it will arrive sooner than later, and now i’m More eager than ever.
  8. nwcs macrumors 68000


    Sep 21, 2009
    Sounds like hubris leads before the fall here. Maybe Apple will buy their IP when it goes on liquidation?
  9. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    This article is not about Magic Leap (which has a valuation in the billions of dollars), rather it's about Leap Motion, a completely different company. Leap Motion's primary product is a hand tracking device for VR/AR. It can track the motion of individual fingers in midair with fairly good precision, no gloves, etc. required. I have one, and it's a pretty cool device.
  10. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Yeah, those beanbag chairs are super-expensive.

    And damn those "costly engineering salaries." They should just pay minimum wage to the people who make the actual products/software that make the company valuable in the first place.
  11. tromboneaholic Suspended


    Jun 9, 2004
    Clearwater, FL
    Leap Motion's VP of Design just quit and they had to move to a smaller office to cut costs. Seems clear the direction they are going and why.
  12. Tozovac macrumors 65816


    Jun 12, 2014
    Wishful/imaginative thinking, but I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall and would have loved if they had Tim & Jony in the room and called Jony's mac-pro buttefly keyboard, mouse-charging port, iOS 7, and Fisher Price My-First-looking OSX designs as being crap.

    I'm thinking: when Rodney Dangerfield calls his dinner "low grade dog food" and then the chef's reaction...
  13. inkswamp macrumors 68030


    Jan 26, 2003
    I see people reacting negatively to this but there is some truth to it, and it's good to see that there are people willing to tell the executives at Apple the unvarnished truth. Apple has been phoning it in for a long time now.

    And in case we've all forgotten in the rush to denounce any tech people showing disrespect to Apple, Steve Jobs wasn't exactly cuddling up to corporate tech companies in his early days. The next Steve Jobs won't be a corporate suck-up.
  14. Handsome Bacon macrumors regular

    Handsome Bacon

    Apr 10, 2012
    Location: Location!
    Wow, they really sound like a couple of guys who deserve $50m. :rolleyes:
  15. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    LOL. Just because you don’t like some of their design decisions doesn’t mean apple is the evil empire. They are the most valuable company on Earth, and clawed their way up from near ruin. When you liked what they were doing, they were probably almost out of business. Clearly they are making many millions of people happy with their products and services; far more than they made happy in the past.
  16. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    A beanbag chair is a perk? Maybe ... if I was 8 years old. I tend to adult more often these days.
  17. AppleHaterLover macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2018
    I think AR sucks and I have no interest in it. I honestly can't quite understand why Apple is pushing it so much when the use cases are novelty at best.

    That frog-dissecting stuff is worse, and probably higher-cost than the alternative.
  18. the johnmc macrumors regular

    the johnmc

    Jun 23, 2017
    iPhone: 38.551970,-121.698453
    A variant thereof at any rate. These kinds of shenanigans are far from uncommon in the Bay Area.
  19. Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008
    Well. Paying lousy salaries is what Apple does, so naturally this article must state that "costly engineering salaries" are a bad thing...
  20. carlob macrumors member


    Nov 23, 2014
  21. corebeliefs Suspended


    Dec 28, 2016
    Red meat for both sides, Apple enthusiasts and critics alike. Winner: Business Insider.
  22. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    HBO should make great series about tech industry in the valley...oh wait
  23. kaneda macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2001
    Steve Jobs would have assembled his own engineers to do his own motion gestures and put Leap out of business.
  24. tromboneaholic Suspended


    Jun 9, 2004
    Clearwater, FL
    In a garage!
  25. McTaste macrumors regular


    Jan 21, 2014
    Then again, it is just as likely that Apple was just fishing and had no intention of going through with the purchase.

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