Meta Buys Luxexcel

Just a quick note today about some news that just broke on Meta and Luxexcel.

It Happens Again, Meta Buys Another Company

I was in the middle of an in-depth analysis of the Meta Quest Pro’s Image Quality (or lack thereof) when news broke that Meta has bought Luxexcel, which has a process for making 3-D printed lenses for vision correction that can encapsulate waveguides with an air gap.

I had heard a rumor of the Meta buyout of Luxexcel as far back as June 2022. This may be important as the deal may have been done before some of the falloffs in Meta’s stock price and the major layoff announcement.

I discussed Luxexcel and the fact that Luxexcel was working with many companies in a video I recorded with SadleyIts Bradley back in June 2022.

Meta Buys What Snap Wants

When Snap bought WaveOptics, I heard a rumor that one of the reasons Snap bought WaveOptics was partly because of WaveOptic’s work with Luxexcel. It was also rumored that one of the reasons Snap bought Compound Photonics (Exclusive: Snap Buying Compound Photonics (LCOS and MicroLED) was to get access to MicroLED microdisplay technology after Meta bought Plessey. Perhaps a quote from Catch-22 applies, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22.

Comment

This continues a trend of companies giants like Meta, Apple, Google, and others, including Snap and Vuzix, buying up the supply chain for AR components. This buying up of fledgling technologies is likely to hinder the long-term development of the AR market.

Karl Guttag
Karl Guttag
Articles: 229

13 Comments

    • I slipped up again on the word “buy.” Yes, Meta didn’t buy Plessey; they just bought all their capacity for MicroLEDs for AR/VR applications.

  1. I’m glad to see Head-Up Displays have finally been accepted and integrated at almost all the larger automotive OEMS (except Tesla!). It took 36 years for cars. But, taking the HUD to the head remains a challenge.

    • It is not the competition but the attempt at monopolizing the supply chain that will hinder the process.

      Imagine if, in the early 1980s, IBM didn’t just use Intel CPUs but bought them and some other semiconductor companies, plus Microsoft. Then IBM went around enforcing their patents against everyone. There would be no PC market, just an IBM computer market.

      In the short run, monopolies may seem to improve progress, but in the long run, they hinder it. It is one of the great facilities of anti-trust in the US today, which allows companies to monopolize markets because it is perceived that the consumer is not hurt (in the short run). What is missed is the long-term impact, as everyone depends on one or a few companies for a particular product or service.

      A classic example of this was ATT pre-1980 (pre-breakup). The progress in phones was at a snails pace (push button dialing was a great innovation) and they charge exhorbident rates for long distance calls.

      • You keep mentioning “monopoly”, but we don’t have that with giants like Apple, Meta, Google, Samsung, (and Snap, Magic Leap etc.) competing in the XR market.

      • You are right; the correct term is an oligopoly, where a few giant companies crowd out all the smaller companies. But in the mind of many “tech savvy” people, everyone else in the AR market is wasting their time as Apple is the only one that can succeed.

        They are robbing the cradle of technology development so nobody else can get their hands on it. This is most clearly seen in the area of MicroLEDs. If you don’t have billions of dollars to throw around, it is hard even to get your hands on the technology. Companies are disappearing before anyone has even heard of them. It gets to be where only the giants can play and put all the pieces together necessary to make a product. In a mature market, this might be natural business evolution where successful companies take most of the market. But we are seeing companies that made their big money in different markets blocking out anyone that is not already a giant from participating in new a market.

        At the AR/VR/MR 2022 conference, Kevin Curtis (Curtis), Magic Leap’s VP of Optical Engineering, described Magic Leap as a little company trying to compete with giants. I don’t see how even Snap can compete with the likes of Meta, Apple, and Google.

        We also see this from the start-up investment side. The attitude becomes that the only exit for these companies is to sell themselves to a big company.

        AR is also a very strange market in that so much money is being thrown around before there is a well-established used model. People will make the analogy to PCs, but there was an obvious use case for PCs long before the PC market emerged (I know I graduated from college in 1976 and worked on semiconductors used in PCs and computer graphics). It was just a case of cost reduction.

  2. Yes, it’s a shame that this narrows the playing field so much and big companies are so inefficient, too. Reminds me of the late 90’s telecom components hoarding, which ended so well, not. LOL. Better to be on the component side of this I think.

  3. Probably worth highlighting that Meta bought Daqri’s patents, which includes one for using this positive and negative lens combination around a waveguide – technically Snap couldn’t do this without licensing the IP from Meta (if they were ever to sell in volume). Regarding the “monopoly” – there is no money to be had here – most shareholders in Meta are desperate to see Zuckerberg replaced with a business orientated CEO and stop wasting money on this expensive unprofitable ambition. Microsoft, Google, Apple, Meta – nobody in the business community cares about their AR escapades other than the burn rate, they care about the potential for underlying revenue, mainly cloud computing and ads. Bare in mind also that all these small AR companies being bought were unprofitable and desperate to be bought, they’d be going under or seeking yet another VC funding round if left much longer.

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