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Smart glasses company North lays off 150 employees

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

North, the company behind the Focals smart glasses, laid off 150 employees yesterday. The company employed “over 400 people,” according to North’s website, which suggests that this is a substantial portion of the company’s workforce.

North launched its smart glasses, which use a laser to project a display in front of wearers’ eyes, in January. Just weeks later, the company lowered the glasses’ starting price from $999 to $599.99. The company said the pricing adjustment had nothing to do with the initial success of its glasses, and instead, it had to do with making its pricing resemble the usual structure for glasses. The company said it had been a “great few months” between announcement and the price change.

The company raised $130 million to launch the glasses, which included investments from Amazon, Intel, and other top venture capitalists.

North CEO and co-founder Stephen Lake said in an emailed statement that the layoffs were necessary to keep developing its smart glasses.

“In order to succeed long-term, we’re faced with some tough decisions,” Lake said. “We decided to lay off a number of employees yesterday in order to focus our resources and ensure we have sufficient runway to execute on our upcoming milestones over the next 18-24 months. This was a difficult decision, but a necessary one to ensure long-term success.”

One Reddit post suggests that most of the layoffs came from the manufacturing department, but Lake says that North plans to continue growing its Kitchener-Waterloo headquarters in Canada.