Top Microsoft executive leaves to become Magic Leap CEO

Magic Leap One Headset Creator Edition
Magic Leap One Headset Creator Edition (Image credit: Magic Leap)

What you need to know

  • Peggy Johnson will leave her executive role at Microsoft to become CEO of Magic Leap.
  • Johnson leaves her role at Microsoft as executive vice president of business development.
  • Johnson begins her role at Magic Leap on August 1, 2020.

Magic Leap announced this week that Peggy Johnson will become the company's new CEO. Johnson is currently executive vice president of business development at Microsoft but will begin her new role as CEO of Magic Leap on August 1, 2020. Before joining Microsoft in 2014, Johnson held several leadership positions at Qualcomm.

Magic Leap is an augmented reality startup. Initially founded in 2011, the company developed the Magic Leap One headset that released in 2018. The headset saw low sales numbers, reportedly selling 6,000 Magic Leap One headsets in six months. The company had a goal of selling 100,000 headsets in that time. These figures likely played a role in Magic Leap's shift toward businesses sales. Johnson has an extensive work history of working with business to build relationships, which aligns with Magic Leap's relatively new goals.

Magic Leap highlights Johnson's experience in building strategic partnerships. In her role at Microsoft, Johnson built and grew relationships with partners and enterprises. She also led M12, Microsoft's corporate venture fund. In that role, Johnson identified strategic investment opportunities.

Johnson spoke highly of her new company and its developments within the realm of spatial computing, stating, "Since its founding in 2011, Magic Leap has pioneered the field of spatial computing, and I have long admired the relentless efforts and accomplishments of this exceptional team. Magic Leap's technological foundation is undeniable, and there is no question that has the potential to shape the future of XR and computing."

Johnson thanked Magic Leap's board and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Magic Leap's press release, stating, "It is with great pride and sincere appreciation to the Magic Leap Board, Rony and the entire team, as well as to Satya Nadella at Microsoft, that I assume the role of leading this visionary business into the future."

In addition to her roles at Qualcomm and Microsoft throughout her career, Johnson currently serves on the Board of Directors and BlackRock, Inc., a global investment management company.

As pointed out by The New York Times, Johnson joins Magic Leap at a key time in its development. Last December, Magic Leap announced that it would focus on selling technologies to businesses, moving away from selling directly to consumers. This move aligns with Johnson's experience at Microsoft.

Johnson's statement in Magic Leap's press release echoes these sentiments and focuses on her plan to build relationships for Magic Leap, "As CEO, I look forward to strategically building enduring relationships that connect Magic Leap's game-changing technology and pipeline to the wide-ranging digital needs of enterprises of all sizes and industries."

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

2 Comments
  • This will be interesting. Magic Leap has been struggling because they can't tell us why their headset is better than the HoloLens 1/2. They have so much hype for the consumer side of the business, but when it came out it didn't have everything they kept marketing to us. Then you look at the price and most consumer does not want to spend that kind of money. Now they have made a push to go Enterprise to "catch-up" and while bringing her enterprise experience is what they need I just don't know if they have provided enough services in house to compete with the HoloLens 2 at this point. The Dynamics 365 integration is huge for a lot of companies including for what I use. In addition Enterprise wants stability. Microsoft isn't going anywhere, but does Magic Leap have enough financial backing to invest in stabilizing their business for Enterprise reliance? Today I don't think they do, but I always want this tech to succeed.
  • So, basically, Microsoft was correct to position Hololens as it did.