With the official launch of Magic Leap One expected by the end of summer (translation: days from now), Magic Leap's hype machine just took a big hit with the sudden loss of a key marketing executive.
Magic Leap confirmed the departure of Jeff Gattis, vice president of product marketing, to Recode and cited "personal reasons" regarding the reason for his sudden departure.
Gattis's resume includes stints at HTC, Qualcomm, Microsoft, and TiVo. At HTC, he worked on the HTC Vive VR headset team, among other "connected products," but left before the Vive launch to join Magic Leap in Nov. 2015.
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From a business perspective, product marketing is the function that develops a company's "go to market" strategy, or how a product is positioned, priced, and sold to target audiences. Some of this strategy is already evident in Magic Leap's positioning of Magic Leap One: Creator Edition to developers, as well as its alliance with AT&T for the consumer market.
Over the course of the last few years, Magic Leap has been the subject of several high-profile human resources stories. In 2016, the company's PR chief and chief marketing officer left in close succession to join Andy Rubin's Essential. And earlier this year, the company took legal action against a former employee for theft and a security officer for levying trade secrets violations against Magic Leap.
This latest departure comes at a particularly critical juncture considering the fact that the product marketing leader should logically be the very last person to jump ship right before a product launch. Nevertheless, at this point, the go to market strategy is in place and Magic Leap's marketing team is already executing its plan, so Gattis' fingerprints will still be all over this launch.
But the sudden exit still leaves an odd void in the company's leadership just as it needs to guide the team toward the finish line.