Holographic Capture Startup 8i Plans to Lay Off Half of Its Staff

New Zealand- and Los Angeles-based holographic capture startup 8i is having significant layoffs that could impact more than 30 staffers. The company confirmed the layoffs in a statement emailed to Variety, which said that it was undergoing a restructuring that could impact as much as half of its staff of around 70 full-time employees.

“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,” the statement read. “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.  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. The proposal impacts about half of our full time positions.”

New Zealand’s laws require companies in this position to go through a mandated restructuring process; 8i is expected to finalize that process by the middle of next week. Local business outlet NBR was first to report about the restructuring Friday.

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8i is best known for its holographic capture technology, which allows to capture 3D holograms of people and other things that can then be used in AR and VR experiences. The company was founded in 2014, and made headlines in recent months with a number of projects that showed off its technology in different contexts.

In March, 8i premiered the “Buzz Aldrin: Cycling Pathways to Mars” VR experience at SXSW, which featured 3D holograms of the famed astronaut. And in June, the company launched its Holo AR app for iOS and Android that made it possible to record videos featuring holograms of Spider-Man, a variety of social media stars and a dog in a hot-dog costume.

The Holo app launched just as Apple, Google and Facebook threw their full weight behind phone-based AR. Since then, functionality very similar to the app has found its way into other mainstream apps, including the camera app of Google’s Pixel phones.

In its statement, 8i touted Holo as one of the examples for its success this year, but also acknowledged that it had to focus on core competencies going forward: “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. We are committed to doing so with the utmost dignity and respect, and with sincere gratitude for their contribution. 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.”

8i has raised more than $41 million in funding, including a $27 million Series B round earlier this year that was led by Time Warner.


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