Peggy Johnson is Leaving Microsoft

Posted on July 7, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft with 13 Comments

Toronto , Canada – 21 May 2019; Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Microsoft, on Centre Stage during day one of Collision 2019 at Enercare Center in Toronto, Canada. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Microsoft executive vice president Peggy Johnson is leaving the software giant and will assume the CEO role at Magic Leap, maker of an erstwhile HoloLens competitor.

“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,” Ms. Johnson said in a prepared statement. Magic Leap’s technological foundation is undeniable, and there is no question that has the potential to shape the future of XR and computing.”

There’s also no question that Magic Leap has failed, and dramatically, to offer a viable alternative to Microsoft’s augmented reality (AR) solution, HoloLens. Its Magic Leap One headset has been described as “vaporware” thanks to its many years of development and billions of dollars of investment. The firm first announced the product in early 2015 and crashed hard when it finally shipped in late 2019. Magic Leap laid off half its staff in April.

“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,” Ms. Johnson says. “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.”

Peggy Johnson joined Microsoft in 2014 after a 24-year career at Qualcomm.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “Peggy Johnson is Leaving Microsoft”

  1. will

    I wish her all the best, but she must know more than we do about Leap or they are looking to do a 180 with their tech going forward? Maybe setup the company for an acquisition down the road?

    • jbinaz

      In reply to will:

      Or, she's grabbing the CEO title and the cachet (and cash!) that comes with it. Even if she fails, she'll have the title of CEO under her belt, and can use that as credentials for future employment.


      And my first thought was like yours: acquisition. Maybe she hopes to pull an Elop and sell it back to Microsoft and laugh all the way to the bank!

  2. BigM72

    An AR device failed to cone to market. I think this has to be a short term role to package IP from the company for sale to others.

  3. hellcatm

    I predict that Microsoft will buy Magic Leap within the next 6-12 months.

  4. eric_rasmussen

    Yeah, I suspect Magic Leap is dead and will be sold off for IP. Apple and Microsoft are the only ones currently working in any serious capacity on AR. She said she wants to bring their tech to the enterprise, which is all Microsoft is focusing on with HoloLens, so getting an EVP from Microsoft to steer the sale to Microsoft makes a lot of sense.


    It's a shame, really, since AR has the potential to fundamentally change how we interact with the devices around us. Magic Leap wanted to bring that to the world, Microsoft is happy if a few large companies use it, so the odds of Magic Leap tech getting refined for the consumer market is about nil under Microsoft.


    I predict Apple will develop a consumer friendly device that nullifies HoloLens so the only thing left for Microsoft will be licensing its patent portfolio to Apple.

    • simont

      In reply to Eric_Rasmussen:

      Why do I get the feeling she moved to Magic Leap as CEO so she can sell the company to somebody else and get a nice big bonus. And a possible new job at that same company.

      • Paul Thurrott

        She went to Magic Leap for the same reason that Stephen Elop went to Nokia, but it's not the reason everyone is wink-winking about. These people are/were not "Trojan horses." You gotta let go of the conspiracy theory nonsense. These people are/were simply ambitious and want(ed) a CEO role that they were never going to get at Microsoft. Johnson has no particular expertise in AR/VR. And Elop had no expertise in mobile. They weren't "sent" to these companies to undermine them. They are/were going there to try and save them so they can advance their careers.
  5. bart

    I do think Johnson has been instrumental in Microsoft collaborating with other companies. The whole 'open Microsoft' can't be attributed to Nadella only. She definitely left a stamp on the company.

  6. btwilz

    My brother was part of the recent Magic Leap layoffs. He worked on the consumer-side. He said most lay-offs were consumer-side as they're trying lean heavier into the businesses-side. Interestingly, he's enroute to start his new job with Microsoft.

  7. illuminated

    Magic Leap at this point looks like a smoking pile of ash. Believing in the future of the company and moving into a CEO post there is truly a Magic Leap. Or it could be an ejection seat with a golden parachute. In any case I would be surprised if anything good comes out of this.

  8. Stooks

    I hope she gets paid up front.

  9. nine54

    I always felt the stealth and mystery around Magic Leap were overdone. I understand the need for discretion, but if years pass and you haven't shipped anything and then pivot your business plan and target market so long after funding, something is wrong. Maybe it's management or maybe the tech isn't commercially viable (yet) or is a solution looking for a problem to solve. I've heard its impressive--but that was 2015. Is it still really "leaps" and bounds above alternatives?

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