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Google Is Buying Innovative Camera Startup Lytro For $40 Million ( 36

According to TechCrunch, Google is acquiring Lytro, the imaging startup that began as a ground-breaking camera company for consumers before pivoting to use its depth-data, light-field technology in VR. From the report: One source described the deal as an "asset sale" with Lytro going for no more than $40 million. Another source said the price was even lower: $25 million and that it was shopped around -- to Facebook, according to one source; and possibly to Apple, according to another. A separate person told us that not all employees are coming over with the company's technology: some have already received severance and parted ways with the company, and others have simply left. Assets would presumably also include Lytro's 59 patents related to light-field and other digital imaging technology. The sale would be far from a big win for Lytro and its backers. The startup has raised just over $200 million in funding and was valued at around $360 million after its last round in 2017, according to data from PitchBook. Its long list of investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Foxconn, GSV, Greylock, NEA, Qualcomm Ventures and many more. Rick Osterloh, SVP of hardware at Google, sits on Lytro's board. A pricetag of $40 million is not quite the exit that was envisioned for the company when it first launched its camera concept, and in the words of investor Ben Horowitz, "blew my brains to bits."
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Google Is Buying Innovative Camera Startup Lytro For $40 Million

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  • ..a "Take Under" back in the dot-com bust days. Good times.

    • The VCs already put in $200M, and they likely had a controlling stake, so they had to acquiesce to this sale. Most likely they faced a choice of either putting up more capital, or selling it at a loss for whatever they could recover.

  • Seems to me pretty soon only a select few (read: humongous) companies will own/run everything.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Thursday March 22, 2018 @03:15AM (#56303575)

      Seems to me pretty soon only a select few (read: humongous) companies will own/run everything.

      They already do. Most of the items you buy will be from one of 10 companies. [].

      Click that image to embiggen it, because practically everything you eat, drink, or clean yourself with will be there.

    • by Rolgar ( 556636 )

      This is why we should have within the rules about corporations that ownership should pass to the employees over time if the company gets over a certain size. After the company grows to 10 employees, then the employees get 5% of the company every year until the founder only owns 10%. The founder can retain all voting rights until he chooses to release them, then they go to the employees as well. The owner can only sell his shares to the employee group. Destroy the stock market, and the power of the big compa

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @12:41AM (#56303231)

    I had a feeling they were going to be acquired by someone, it could've been worse than Google. Google's more likely to license the patents and tech than to sit on it all and make it exclusive to Google platforms. Cardboard/Daydream have decent penetration in the VR marketplace, but I can't see Google making lightfield videos exclusive to those. Facebook/Oculus has enough games/experiences 'exclusive' to their platform that they might've done that, though.

  • I can't say I'm surprised... as I said back in 2012, when Lytro first hit the market:

    But that's where Lytro misses the bus... It's priced above the average consumer's price range, requires more fiddling and diddling, and requires Lytro's proprietary web based software - all to produce a picture that would be the pride of 2002.

    It ends up being a solution in search of a problem. Too much for consumers, too little for prosumers and professionals.

    I knew the end was approaching a year or two ago when th

    • I'm fairly sure that using the word "prosumer" is punishable by a hefty fine and several months in prison in most countries.
      • It's a common term in the camera industry and circles. I'm fairly sure you're simply clueless and need to get out more.

  • I bought one of their early models for $79 a few years ago. It is funny-looking - a rectangular box about the size of a hot-dog - but is intriguing for its possibilities. The image you get actually includes depth information. One of the fun things you can do is create a 3-D image from the single-lens shot.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990