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Magic Leap, Google's High-Profile 3-D Tech Bet, Just Canceled Its High-Profile Appearances. Why?

A TED Talk and a Reddit AMA, canceled within a couple of days of each other. Interesting!

Magic Leap
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

More mystery for Magic Leap, the mysterious “cinematic reality” company that makes bold claims and has raised a lot of money: The startup, which had been on a public relations blitz in the last few weeks, has gone dark and abruptly backed out of two high-profile appearances this week.

CEO Rony Abovitz, who was supposed to go onstage at the TED conference in Vancouver on Wednesday, has canceled his talk. And Graeme Devine, a respected game developer who joined the company last year, won’t be doing his “ask me anything” Q&A on Reddit, scheduled for tomorrow.

“I am unfortunately restricted from saying more than this right now,” Magic Leap spokesman Andy Fouché wrote in an email, after confirming the cancellations.

Magic Leap used to be an almost-stealth company, and said very little in the first few years of its life. Last fall, Magic Leap became very high-profile, after Google led a mammoth $542 million funding round in the company, which says it is working on a revolutionary way to display 3-D images. But Magic Leap remained more-or-less mum.

Last month, it started talking. First the MIT Technology Review ran a first-person account of what it’s like to use Magic Leap’s tech, which it estimated was one to three years away from being a consumer product.

Then Abovitz popped up on his own Reddit AMA and claimed that Magic Leap could replace smartwatches, laptops and phones. This week he was supposed to appear at TED, and Fouché, who had formerly headed up comms at Nike, was offering interviews to outlets including Re/code.

I can think of a couple reasons why a company might want to quickly pull its executives out of the public eye, and asked Fouché to comment on one in particular. No dice.

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