Last week, industry sources told TechCrunch that Google would soon acquire light field camera maker Lytro for somewhere between $25 million and $40 million. And while Google’s part in all this hasn’t been confirmed, Lytro has now formally announce that it will be shutting down, and an anonymous source has shed more light on how Google is involved.
The official Lytro announcement was published earlier on the company’s blog, where Team Lytro bid a bittersweet farewell to the “Cinematic and VR Community.”
The statement—which you can see in full at the bottom of this post—reads in part:
It has been an honor and a pleasure to contribute to the cinema and Virtual Reality communities, but starting today we will not be taking on new productions or providing professional services as we prepare to wind down the company. We’re excited to see what new opportunities the future brings for the Lytro team as we go our separate ways.
According to The Verge, for many of the Lytro employees “separate ways” actually means “to Google.”
A person familiar with the matter confirmed the original TechCrunch report to The Verge, explaining that “a large fraction” of the employees at Lytro would take jobs at Google. However, those jobs won’t necessarily have anything to do with developing light field technology. The Verge’s source said the deal was more “hiring deal” than “company acquisition,” and that Google wasn’t so much buying Lytro as acquiring its talent and some of its assets, without any specific plans to integrate those assets into current light field projects.
Google has yet to (and may never) comment on this information, and Lytro didn’t specify how long it would take to “wind down,” but it seems we’ve seen the end of the Lytro brand—either as a consumer camera maker, or in the professional VR filmmaking market.
Full Lytro Statement
To the Cinematic and VR Community, Live Long and Prosper
At Lytro, we believe that Light Field will continue to shape the course of Virtual and Augmented Reality, and we’re incredibly proud of the role we’ve been able to play in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. We’ve uncovered challenges we never dreamed of and made breakthroughs at a seemingly impossible pace. We’ve had some spectacular successes, and built entire systems that no one thought possible. More importantly, we built a team that was singularly unified in its focus and unrivaled in its dedication. It has been an honor and a pleasure to contribute to the cinema and Virtual Reality communities, but starting today we will not be taking on new productions or providing professional services as we prepare to wind down the company. We’re excited to see what new opportunities the future brings for the Lytro team as we go our separate ways. We would like to thank the various communities that have supported us and hope that our paths will cross in the future.