Welcome to Trace!

When Trace’s future co-founders Greg Tran, Martin Smith and Sean Couture joined Magic Leap in spring/summer of 2015, it was about as hot as startups come. After years of secrecy, the augmented reality company captured Silicon Valley’s imagination with in-device footage, before capping the year with an $827 million raise. The story of the intervening years is one of a massively funded and extremely promising startup struggling to find market fit. Tran exited his creative director role in January 2020, while Couture and Smith left in July 2020 and February 2021, respectively. Trace was founded in 2021, with Tran, Smith and Couture stepping into the respective roles of CEO, CTO and head of 3D art. The startup, which builds location-based branded augmented reality experiences, is a product of some of Magic Leap’s early content struggles. Trace is a far more modest firm than Magic Leap. In addition to its three founders, the company employs a handful of contractors. Magic Leap’s funding now tops $4 billion. Trace, on the other hand, is announcing a $2 million pre-seed this week, co-led by Rev1 Ventures and Impellent Ventures. Still, the company has already teamed with some high-profile names, including Qualcomm, Telefónica, T-Mobile and Lenovo.

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