Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Players and the Game
Virtual reality has been exiled to the dreaded trough of disillusionment for years, but it is finally on the path to escape. Products such as Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are continuously wowing both users and investors, and these technologies will clearly play a significant role in the future of movies and gaming.
Despite this emergence, it is another related technology that has shown even more potential. The market for augmented reality will be worth 3x as much as the market for virtual reality in the coming years, according to a recently updated estimate from AR/VR advisory firm Digi-Capital.
What’s the difference between the two?
Virtual reality offers a closed and fully immersive experience for users inside a virtual world.
Augmented reality offers an open and partly immersive experience that makes virtual elements visible in the real world.
While devices such as smartphones can offer some basic aspects of augmented or virtual reality, there are now several companies in both fields that are on the verge of bringing game-changing products to the mass market.
Facebook made an early bet buy purchasing Oculus Rift for $2 billion in 2014, which is now considered the leader in virtual reality. Phone and game console manufactures have also anted up with Sony, HTC, and Samsung all actively developing products in the ecosystem.
On the augmented side, it’s the Google-backed Magic Leap as well as the Microsoft’s HoloLens that are considered key players for hardware. Apple has also acquired AR software maker Metaio, but has kept plans under wraps.
Aside from the big companies involved, there are also plenty of smaller startups in virtual and augmented reality. CB Insights has created a list of venture capital investments, sorted by firm, in these technologies: (click to expand)
What’s Ahead in 2016?
This year is expected to be a big one for virtual and augmented reality technologies. The TED Conference in Vancouver, BC was littered with VR/AR experiences, and the technology has become the primary focus of the CES event in Las Vegas.
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony are expected to bring early VR headsets to market. Meanwhile, the low-cost Google Cardboard will continue to whet everyone’s appetite for more immersive virtual reality experiences in the meantime.
The mystery surrounding Magic Leap will continue to grow, and many expect a reveal from the secretive Florida startup in 2016. The sleeping giants, Apple and Amazon, could also wake up this year after keeping their VR and AR efforts highly-veiled thus far.
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs Since 2020
How bad are the current layoffs in the tech sector? This visual reveals the 20 biggest tech layoffs since the start of the pandemic.
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs This Decade
The events of the last few years could not have been predicted by anyone. From a global pandemic and remote work as the standard, to a subsequent hiring craze, rising inflation, and now, mass layoffs.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, essentially laid off the equivalent of a small town just weeks ago, letting go of 12,000 people—the biggest layoffs the company has ever seen in its history. Additionally, Amazon and Microsoft have also laid off 10,000 workers each in the last few months, not to mention Meta’s 11,000.
This visual puts the current layoffs in the tech industry in context and ranks the 20 biggest tech layoffs of the 2020s using data from the tracker, Layoffs.fyi.
The Top 20 Layoffs of the 2020s
Since 2020, layoffs in the tech industry have been significant, accelerating in 2022 in particular. Here’s a look at the companies that laid off the most people over the last three years.
|Rank||Company||# Laid Off||% of Workforce||As of|
Layoffs were high in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, halting the global economy and forcing staff reductions worldwide. After that, things were steady until the economic uncertainty of last year, which ultimately led to large-scale layoffs in tech—with many of the biggest cuts happening in the past three months.
The Cause of Layoffs
Most workforce slashings are being blamed on the impending recession. Companies are claiming they are forced to cut down the excess of the hiring boom that followed the pandemic.
Additionally, during this hiring craze competition was fierce, resulting in higher salaries for workers, which is now translating in an increased need to trim the fat thanks to the current economic conditions.
Of course, the factors leading up to these recent layoffs are more nuanced than simple over-hiring plus recession narrative. In truth, there appears to be a culture shift occurring at many of America’s tech companies. As Rani Molla and Shirin Ghaffary from Recode have astutely pointed out, tech giants really want you to know they’re behaving like scrappy startups again.
Twitter’s highly publicized headcount reduction in late 2022 occurred for reasons beyond just macroeconomic factors. Elon Musk’s goal of doing more with a smaller team seemed to resonate with other founders and executives in Silicon Valley, providing an opening for others in tech space to cut down on labor costs as well. In just one example, Mark Zuckerberg hailed 2023 as the “year of efficiency” for Meta.
Meanwhile, over at Google, 12,000 jobs were put on the chopping block as the company repositions itself to win the AI race. In the words of Google’s own CEO:
“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today… We have a substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products and are prepared to approach it boldly and responsibly.”– Sundar Pichai
The Bigger Picture in the U.S. Job Market
Beyond the tech sector, job openings continue to rise. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed a total of 11 million job openings across the U.S., an increase of almost 7% month-over-month. This means that for every unemployed worker in America right now there are 1.9 job openings available.
Additionally, hiring increased significantly in January, with employers adding 517,000 jobs. While the BLS did report a decrease in openings in information-based industries, openings are increasing rapidly especially in the food services, retail trade, and construction industries.
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