ByteDance’s Pico Laying Off Hundreds of Staff as it Pivots to Hardware
ByteDance’s mixed reality division Pico Interactive is planning to lay off “hundreds” of staff as the company looks to “restructure” some of its business operations, according to recent reports.
A recent Reuters report states that ByteDance is laying off staff although the company is disputing earlier reports that it is doing it on a huge scale and possibly laying off thousands.
The Chinese news outlet Tencent Technology News reported that ByteDance’s layoffs were “widespread” and that they were going to “affect more than a thousand employees”, trimming down Pico’s workforce to just a few “hundreds” in comparison to its peak of 2,000 employees. It is also important to note that Tencent is also ByteDance’s direct competitor.
However, Reuters reported that Pico was planning to retain its hardware team although most of its software workforce is to be “folded back into” ByteDance. Reuters cites Pico CEO Zhou Hongwei who is reported to have told staff that the virtual reality industry “remains in a very early stage” and that estimates for industry and market growth were currently “too optimistic as growth did not go as fast as expected.”
ByteDance has confirmed that the layoffs are indeed taking place although it denies the scale of it as originally reported by Tencent Technology News. However, the company hasn’t divulged how many of the Pico staff will be affected by the layoffs.
In a statement, ByteDance said that the company frequently assesses its business needs and makes adjustments to strengthen the organization and better align its teams with its goals. As a result, the company will “restructure” its PICO business to focus more on “hardware and core technologies.”
ByteDance is, of course, the TikTok parent company. It acquired the VR hardware maker Pico in 2021 in mid-2021.
Pico’s focus had previously been on the enterprise market. However, following its acquisition, it promptly launched its existing headset to the consumer market in Europe. The launch was as a beta test and was soon followed by the launch of the Pico 4 headset which has superior specifications to the dominant industry player Quest 2 while costing roughly the same price.
The Pico 4 headset featured dual 2K displays along with pancake lenses one year before the launch of the Quest 3 headset. The headset’s price is midway between the two Meta Quest headsets. It is, thus, a midpoint option for those looking for a VR headset option with specs above the Quest 2 but costing lower than the high-spec Quest 3 headset.
The Pico 4 headset is yet to be launched in the North American market. Its scheduled launch was delayed indefinitely as ByteDance’s TikTok came under increasing regulatory scrutiny by the US Congress.
Bytedance has been funding developers to port over some of the big-ticket Quest Store apps and games. However, its fledgling store doesn’t have standalone exclusives such as Population: ONE, Beat Saber, Onward, and Resident Evil 4.
A month after the launch of the Pico 4 headset, the Chinese news outlet Sina Technology reported that Pico sales were not meeting expectations. According to the report, the acquisition of Pico by ByteDance also created “factional disputes” between the original staff and the new employees who joined the tech giant from Pico. The report also claimed that ByteDance was losing approximately $140 for every headset it sold.
Pico has an exclusive title, Ubisoft’s Just Dance VR, but it hasn’t shipped yet and no release date has been announced yet even though it was slated for a 2023 release. The company is yet to announce any upcoming major titles.
Content funding on Pico is currently being shifted from controllers to controller-free hand tracking.
ByteDance may actually be looking to take on Apple Vision Pro rather than Meta Quest.
Keep here for more updates on ByteDance and the Pico headsets.https://virtualrealitytimes.com/2023/11/12/bytedances-pico-laying-off-hundreds-of-staff-as-it-pivots-to-hardware/https://virtualrealitytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Pico-Interactive-600x339.pnghttps://virtualrealitytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Pico-Interactive-150x90.pngBusinessByteDance’s mixed reality division Pico Interactive is planning to lay off “hundreds” of staff as the company looks to “restructure” some of its business operations, according to recent reports. A recent Reuters report states that ByteDance is laying off staff although the company is disputing earlier reports that it is...Sam OchanjiSam Ochanji[email protected]AdministratorVirtual Reality Times