Magic Leap Lawsuit Suggests Major HR Issues

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Magic Leap Lawsuit Suggests Major HR Issues
October 25, 2016

Secretive augmented reality startup Magic Leap has managed to keep a close lid on its technology and future products, but a new lawsuit unearthed by Business Insider shines light at problems at its Silicon Valley outpost: Magic Leap’s decision to run most of its business out of Florida made it hard to hire top technical talent, and even run basic operations in its Silicon Valley office, according to company-internal emails and depositions revealed as part of the lawsuit.
 
Magic Leap was sued by two former employees of its Silicon Valley office for unfair termination earlier this year. The company responded with a countersuit that alleges misappropriation of trade secrets. Such he-said-she-said legal battles aren’t uncommon in the tech business, where developers often itch to start the next project even before they’ve ended their previous jobs.
 
But in this case, the lawsuit unveils a bunch of dirt laundry, including emails and testimony suggesting that  Magic Leap had a hard time recruiting and retaining talent because of its remote headquarters in Plantation, Florida. “We lost several (…) hires that I thought would be key leaders because of this,” complained former Magic Leap VP Gary Bradski in a deposition. “I spent a lot of time dealing with convincing disgruntled and frustrated employees to stay.”
 
The company also wasn’t able to supply its West Coast office with a sufficient number of headsets to test and develop its technology, depositions made in the lawsuit allege.
 
So why is Magic Leap based in Florida to begin with? Previous reports have hinted at the company’s desire for secrecy as a key reason, but one former employee now entangled in a lawsuit had a different theory. “It seemed to me and was expressed to me by many employees in various language that the East Coast operation existed for the pleasure of senior people who preferred to live in that [income] tax-free state,” he wrote in a deposition, according to Business Insider.
 
Magic Leap does have a lot of money, thanks to a few huge rounds of financing from companies like Alibaba, Google, Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment. Altogether, Magic Leap has raised $1.39 billion thus far.

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