In what's becoming something of a regular occurrence, Magic Leap has yet another internal, unforced error on its hands. Thankfully, this time it's not about legal skirmishes or theft, but a rather unusual break from company protocol that has been quickly swept under the rug.
On Thursday, a video interview appeared on YouTube featuring Necole Pynn, a newly hired Associate Producer at Magic Leap at its Florida headquarters. For most companies, this wouldn't necessarily be noteworthy. But Magic Leap has, since its inception, strictly enforced its confidentiality, with only fleeting bits of insider commentary regarding the company's progress generally coming from its founder and CEO Rony Abovitz.
That's why it was so surprising to find Pynn freely discussing her views on the company and augmented reality in general during an interview with Jenna Buehler on Trench Media's YouTube channel. That video has now vanished without explanation.
During the 15-minute interview, Pynn, who previously worked as a Development Manager at Electronic Arts (EA), talked about her positive experiences in the technology business, and her reasons for joining the Magic Leap team in February of this year.
"[Rony Abovtiz's 2013] Ted Talk was was a big part of how I knew I was in the right place. Because it was weird and it was wonderful … It was very artistic, and it was fun, and it didn't take itself too seriously. Even in spite of the seriousness of the goals of Magic Leap and the gravity of what it's really doing in advancing this industry. I thought that was fantastic," said Pynn.
"I started doing research when I first applied for the job. I started looking into some of the people who worked there, and I realized that so many of my creative heroes work in this company," she said.
But Pynn doesn't just talk about her excitement regarding the opportunity itself, she also delves into why immersive computing is so important to her and, in the process, gives us some deeper insight into Magic Leap's approach to the future of computing.
"We're moving away from having a single television or phone portal through which to view our media," said Pynn. "[We're moving] into this new world where we have virtual reality, where it basically replaces your entire environment, and augmented reality, which provides a digital overlay onto the existing environment, so you can enhance what's going on around you in basically what ever way you want, besides technical limitations, which are advancing quickly."
Regarding her role as an Associate Producer at Magic Leap, Pynn said, "What I do is kind of a combination of the art, the business, and the technology ... A producer typically keeps the process moving along, collect all the details, facilitates communication between the different departments."
Overall, the conversation is decidedly positive and gives us a great sense of just how insightful and passionate Pynn is about augmented reality. And considering the fact that the interview was posted on International Women's Day (March 8), it also served to put Magic Leap in a favorable light, particularly given some of the past stories related to HR matters at the startup.
"I think it's true that software development is definitely male-dominated right now, but that's changing quite a bit," said Pynn, when asked about the topic of women in the technology business. "I'm actually in a very diverse environment right now, it's a very forward-thinking company with people coming from all over the world to work for Magic Leap."
Later, Pynn went into more depth about the role of women in tech and how companies can work to improve diversity, referencing a 2017 article from the Harvard Business Review that highlighted a Google study on "psychological safety and good team building."
Alas, her incredibly well-spoken views on technology, the changing work environment, and her excitement about her role at Magic Leap all vanished on Friday afternoon. The video was not only scrubbed from YouTube, it's also now erased from the Trench Media website.
A video that could have been a perfectly timed and much-needed public relations win for Magic Leap has instead turned into yet another episode in the company's Apple-esque obsession with secrecy, even if the facts that get out are positive.
Hopefully, along with its dedication to secrecy, the company will also be able to mirror Apple's massive grip on the public's bank accounts, because there's over $2.3 billion riding on that bet when Magic Leap One goes on sale later this year.