AR Startup Magic Leap Hires Brenda Freeman, Former Nat Geo Channel CMO

Brenda Freeman is leaving National Geographic Channel to join Magic Leap, the well-funded augmented-reality startup whose backers include Google, Warner Bros. and Alibaba, as chief marketing officer.

Freeman will report to Magic Leap president and CEO Rony Abovitz. Before joining Nat Geo as CMO in early 2015, she held senior marketing roles at DreamWorks Animation, Turner Broadcasting, Viacom/MTV, and PepsiCo.

Freeman replaces Brian Wallace, who left as Magic Leap’s chief marketing officer last month to head up marketing at a stealth-mode startup founded by Andy Rubin, co-creator of Android and former SVP of mobile at Google.

Last summer, Magic Leap hired Rio Caraeff, the former CEO of music-video service Vevo, to be its chief content officer.

“Brenda’s deep experience with brand building combined with her technology understanding, and passion for creating amazing experiences and lasting connections with audiences, consumers and users, make her a perfect fit for Magic Leap,” Abovitz said in a statement. He added, “Brenda is a geek at heart, and she will help us connect with a wide and diverse future universe of Magic Leaper users.”

Freeman commented, “Magic Leap is creating technology that will profoundly enhance the way we interact with each other in the world. It’s a seminal moment in our history and I am super-excited to lead the marketing efforts on this journey alongside a team of talented, creative visionaries.”

Magic Leap says it is “developing the next computing platform” that will blend virtual and physical worlds, but hasn’t launched any products to date. The company is based in Plantation, Fla., with offices in Los Angeles, Mountain View, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, the U.K., New Zealand and Israel.

The secretive AR startup, founded in 2011, has raised nearly $1.4 billion in funding. In addition to Google, WB and Alibaba, investors include Legendary Entertainment, KKR, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz, Obvious Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Fidelity, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley.

Disney’s Lucasfilm and its ILMxLAB R&D unit earlier this year announced a strategic alliance with Magic Leap to form a joint research lab at Lucasfilm’s San Francisco campus to work on storytelling within the “mixed reality” universe.

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