CastAR, the ambitious augmented reality start-up backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, is reportedly no more. (Now) former employees speaking to Polygon this week claim CastAR recently laid off just shy of 70 employees between its Salt Lake City studio and Palo Alto headquarters and shut down internal studio Eat Sleep Play.
A handful of core employees are still reportedly on payroll but they’re simply working to liquidate the company’s assets.
CastAR was the brainchild of former Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson. Years ago, Valve was working to develop both virtual reality and augmented reality technology. VR ended up being Valve’s core focus but Ellsworth and Johnson didn’t want to abandon the progress they’d made working on the AR side.
In an incredibly generous move, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell released all interest in the AR project to Ellsworth and Johnson. The duo then took to Kickstarter to bring CastAR to life, raising more than $1 million to get the ball rolling. That money was eventually returned to backers, however, when CastAR received outside backing from Playground Global, an investment fund run by Rubin.
The company was preparing to launch an AR headset later this year but when Playground Global cut off the money supply last week, things went south. In the absence of additional funding, former employees say the firm had no choice but to close its doors.
Lead image courtesy VentureBeat