The rise and fall of Meta, the Silicon Valley-based augmented reality startup that sought to challenge, among others, the HoloLens from Microsoft and others, lasted only six years.
Now that the story of the company and its founder Meron Gribetz is coming to an end, we finally have a deeper understanding of what exactly happened in the company and how and how the future might look for the company's assets.
The Fall: Augmented Reality Check
Just a few days after Tech-Ephemera's incessant stream of Las Vegas's CES broke out in Las Vegas, Gribetz took the time to talk with me about the Message to speak that Next Reality had broken last week regarding Metas 'patent lawsuit, inadvertently revealing the full extent of Patas' financial problems and the ultimate fate of the company.
Gribetz sounds understandably tired of the long struggle over control over his business over the past year, yet maintains his usual optimistic tone when interfering with companies that have sold Meta's assets to a new owner. He is no longer the owner of the company and has no control over what could happen to the company, where he worked for over half a decade with pure passion, software and hardware innovations and a perspective on the future of the computer.
"There is a new home for [Meta’s] assets, and that makes me happy," says Gribetz. "That means there's a potential future for this [assets] and it's up to the new management to decide what the trajectory is, and I do not know what they're going to do."
After months and months of return flights from the US to Asia, Gribetz was official until the last week of December 2018, when Gribetz tried to secure new funding for Meta. However, these efforts failed, and Gribetz soon found the company sold out under his leadership.
"This transaction was not between me and anyone, but between the bank and the third party," confirms Gribetz The sale of Next Reality had previously been revealed.
According to Gribetz, he was about to secure a much needed round of financing before selling, but the international economy and politics changed the way of the company. "Unfortunately, due to the trade war between the US and China, the Chinese blocked the last-minute financing deal," says Gribetz. "As a result, we ran out of money."
And while Gribetz will not reveal the new owner's name, the paper path leading to Meta's sale reveals even more facts. As of 2017, Meta transferred many of its patents to Venture Lending & Leasing VII, Inc., a Silicon Valley-based company that finances venture-backed tech startups.
The company then had to lay off around 65% of its workforce in September 2018, which cost Meta his company's services Joe Mikhail, Chief Revenue Officer and most of the public face of the time. Not long after, in the third week of October, 87 patents and patent applications were transferred to K & L Gates, a co-founded law firm based in Seattle (by merger) of William H. Gates Sr., father of Microsoft's co-founder, Bill Gates , The law firm counts Microsoft (the manufacturer of the HoloLens) among their customers. However, the patents were considered "security interests", i. H. Collateral against Meta's debt, assigned rather than as final transfer of title.
"Patents are a type of intangible property / intellectual property. Like real estate, they can be licensed, ceded, sold or arbitrarily used or used as collateral, "explains Andrea H. Evans, a patent and trademark attorney who has spent five years with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
"Usually, a creditor records a" security interest "in a patent when the patent is pledged as collateral, for example, if a loan has been taken, the lender will take and secure a security interest in the patent as collateral against repayment of the loan that he keeps the loan. "
When asked about K & L Gates' involvement in the ongoing Meta struggles, Gribetz dismissed the offer in more detail, but confirmed that the firm is not part of the new ownership group.
All this raises the question of what will happen in a week. On January 24, the deadline that Judge Christopher J. Burke had set in his ongoing patent infringement for Meta was set case against Genedics. In order to avoid a default judgment in favor of Genedics, the plaintiff claiming a patent infringement by Meta, the judge has asked Meta to provide a new legal representation on the above date. When I asked Gribetz if he or the new owner would answer the judge's request, he again declined the answer and left all the answers to this question for the new owners.
In fact, Gribetz is not just disconcerting what that is. New owners of Meta will be dealing with the company – selling the assets piecemeal or trying to run it as a brand – he can not even say what role he will play in his future could.
Dream 1.0: It So It Should not End
In 2011, during a cool evening in Harlem, New York, near Columbia University, where Gribetz studied computer science and neuroscience, introduced a random interaction with one Smartphone-obsessed friend to decide on the ability to develop their own AR device.
His then-high vision was followed by experiments with AR interfaces, one of which is still available on YouTube (see video below). Even then, one could hear the excitement in his voice as he explained how his marker-based AR interface experiment worked at that time.
A short time later, in December 2012, he officially started making Meta a business. 19659002] In 2013, the Meta team launched a fast kickstarter campaign that raised $ 194,444, nearly double the $ 100,000 target to create the first prototype product. In 2014, the company launched the Meta 1 Development Kit at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
At that time, in 2015, the money came from the Venture Capital (VC), and Meta landed a Series A round of US $ 23 million financing from Horizon Ventures of Hong Kong, BOE Optoelectronics of Beijing, the influential VC investor Tim Draper from Silicon Valley, co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian and others.
But the real excitement about Meta started to increase in 2016. By the time Gribetz hit the stage of TED Talk (see video) in Vancouver, British Columbia, he showed Meta 2, the latest version of the AR's device company.
"Whether you send an e-mail to your wife, or you compose a symphony, or you just comfort a friend, they do it the same way – they're bent over these rectangles with buttons, menus, and more rectangles pummeled around, "said Gribetz. as he walked up and down the stage, full of confidence.
"And I think that's the wrong way, I think we can start with a much more natural machine, we should use machines that bring our work back to the world, we should use machines that use the principles of neuroscience to expand our senses and not to go against them, it's just that I have such a machine here, it's called Meta 2. Let's try it. "
And many tech insiders have it in the the following months at tech conferences and demo events. But the Meta 2 did not start in a vacuum. At that time, immersive computing devices such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift attracted much public attention, and Microsoft's HoloLens was unveiled a year earlier, with only a relatively small number of developers rushing for purchase and development hitting the device.
Meta was early in the game, but his most polished version started in an insecure and still unformed computer room, largely dominated by the larger names of Tech.
Over the next two years, Meta continued with announcements surrounding enterp initiatives and an impressive introduction of new remote collaboration software. But behind the scenes, money was running low, and not even the connections to Dell and a strong presence at AWE 2018 could help the company stay afloat. And as the financial pressure widened, the company's attempt to fend off a serious patent lawsuit was depleting its resources.