8i, the New Zealand and Los Angeles-based augmented reality startup bringing celebrity personalities into immersive experiences, is laying off about half of its 70-person staff, according to a report in Variety and confirmed by the company.
“Although we’ve made significant progress, we are continuously challenging our assumptions about where the AR/VR market is headed and how it will develop. And like any early stage company we need to be honest with ourselves and our employees about what kind of company we should build and how fast we need to grow,” 8i told TechCrunch in a statement. “Consequently, we are consulting internally on a proposal for changes to our organization that would align our teams and resources with important core technology initiatives that create the most long term value.”
New Zealand law requires companies making any type of workplace changes to go through a restructuring process. While that doesn’t necessarily mean people lose jobs, it seems the internal proposal 8i came up with does in this case.
Time Warner led a $27 million investment in the startup earlier this year to help the company grow. We noted then that the most limiting factor for 8i in terms of growth would be the amount of technical heavy-lifting required to create a high-end hologram and that at the time 8i was having difficulty creating smooth digitally rendered figures.
8i noted it had released various projects this year, including the launch of its award-winning mobile AR app Holo.
Now the company will have to make due with a leaner staff to help guide it toward the direction it will surely need to go if it wants to see improvement.
“This is incredibly hard as we are saying goodbye to valued members of our team who have helped build 8i into the company it is today,” 8i said. “While this is hard, the streamlining of our business is crucial to remaining nimble as we empower our world-class team to continue to deliver industry leading breakthroughs and advance the world’s leading format of volumetric video.”