Former exec says Magic Leap hobbled by a sexist workplace

Lawsuit alleges "boys' club" environment results in mysterious startup missing internal deadlines.

Magic Leap promises to layer computer-generated images on the real world.

Magic Leap

A former executive at Magic Leap is accusing the mysterious startup of fostering a hostile workplace toward women, an environment she says results in missed internal deadlines.

Tannen Campbell, a former vice president of marketing and brand identity at the startup, says in a lawsuit (PDF) filed Monday in Southern Florida District Court that she was hired in 2015 to help the company with a "pink/blue problem," an internal term reflecting its lack of female leadership.

Campbell alleges she was fired because Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz refused to acknowledge the depth of misogyny in the company's culture after Campbell challenged him to correct a gender imbalance that "renders it so dysfunctional it continues to delay the launch of a product that attracted billions of investment dollars."

The Dania Beach, Florida-based company is a bit of a mystery. It has raised $1.4 billion for its work on "mixed reality" technology, which layers computer-generated images on top of the real world. But almost no one has seen it, and the company hasn't said when its product will be released, how much it will cost or what it will look like.

Campbell says Magic Leap's alleged bias against women contributes to the company missing internal deadlines.

"The macho bullying atmosphere at Magic Leap fosters a dysfunctional culture which creates chaos and lack of process and structure, hinders the company from achieving key product deadlines (including launch, which has shifted back at least 4 times in Campbell's 1.5 years at the company) and, literally, prevented Campbell from doing the job she was hired to do or achieving the goals she and Abovitz had discussed during her initial interview: helping with the 'pink/blue problem' or making Magic Leap less of a 'boys club'," the lawsuit says.

Campbell's lawsuit also accuses Magic Leap of targeting her for dismissal for raising concerns about marketing materials that allegedly misrepresented the capabilities of the company's product. The lawsuit says her warnings were "ignored in favor of her male colleagues' assertions that the images and videos presented on Magic Leap's website and on YouTube were "aspirational," and not Magic Leap's version of "alternate facts," an apparent reference to comments made last month by Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.

Magic Leap did not respond to a request for comment.

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