The secretive Magic Leap may be fund-raising again, and with that may pull a $6 billion to $8 billion valuation out of its hat. That’s from sources of the tech blog BackChannel.
According to BackChannel, part of Wired Media Group, Plantation-based Magic Leap is raising a Series D funding round led by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba. It’s not sewn up yet though. That’s from sources of tech writer/editor Jessi Hempel, who also wrote one of the first long features about the augmented reality tech company with very little about its actual technology (that NDA, you know) about a year ago in Wired.
If this funding news is true, the cash runway may have shortened up a bit. About 15 months ago, Magic Leap raised $793.5 million led by Alibaba, on top of $592 million previously raised from Google and other VCs, for a total of nearly $1.4 billion on a $4.5 billion valuation – and that’s for a company that had yet to reveal its technology to the world. At the time CEO Rony Abovitz said that money would take the company through commercial launch.
“This funding allows us to accelerate the move from product development to pilot manufacturing, manufacturing and commercial launch,” Abovitz told me in a phone interview at the time. “But beyond that, this gives the company a very long-term runway – effectively we can be sustainable. We may not need to raise capital again – it doesn’t mean we won’t – but it gives us the ability to think well beyond the initial product launch.”
Magic Leap still hasn’t launched a product, nor announced a timeline, but the fund-raise could suggest a launch is not too far off – or not. In what may be more signs: Magic Leap purchased a Texas-based game animation studio, FuzzyCube, last month, and this week, Abovitz called on developers and artists to sign up to work on new content for the platform, via Twitter. Abovitz has said Magic Leap will launch its head gear when it’s ready, and with mixed reality content to wow the world.
In other Magic Leap news, as reported earlier this week, the mixed reality company has settled itse gender discrimination lawsuit, claiming a boys club culture among other things, for undisclosed terms.
Whether or not the big ML raise materializes in 2017, it will be a good year for South Florida funding. Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine saw to that this week, raising $231 million in funding from private equity firm Warburg Pincus and bringing its total funding to some $330 million.
In other Miami tech news, Alta5 vaulted into the spotlight at its 500 Startups Demo Day in San Francisco on Thursday night, scoring favorable press out of the gate for the Miami-based fintech startup, which created an automation platform for individual investors. The live-streamed event attracted more than 500 investors, said Alta5 co-founder Rocco Savage. TechCrunch called Alta5 one of the top eight in the batch of 41 500 Startup companies. Mattermark ranked the batch of 41 companies and found Alta 5 to have the third highest Mattermark Growth Score of the batch.
Miami’s Court Buddy, a legal-tech startup also part of 500 Startups’ Batch 20 that pitched Thursday (and a former Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner), made the top 25 in Mattermark’s ranking.
Considering that 500 Startups had 2,000 applicants, and just 41 were chosen for the cohort, and two of them were from South Florida, that’s a pretty good showing for Miami tech in Silicon Valley.
Deadlines coming up
WIN Lab Miami, Babson’s eight-month accelerator program for women-led businesses, is now accepting applications for its second cohort through 5 p.m. May 19 (the deadline was extended. Check out its FAQs page here and its application page here.
The first Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program is taking place at FIU Urban Studios June 9-23. The cost is free for the 25 small business professionals selected and includes valuable accreditations if the course and exams are completed. Read more about it here. The deadline is Monday, May 15.
Find more startup news and views on The Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business. Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg