Lynx-R1 Production Has Been "An Absolute Mess" – Founder

Lynx says the pace of production of its R1 mixed reality headset has been “an absolute mess”.

If you’re unaware, Lynx-R1 is a French standalone headset first announced in 2020 with an open periphery design. Had it shipped on time, in 2022, it would have been the first consumer standalone headset with color passthrough mixed reality. But after repeated delays it was beaten to market by Meta Quest Pro, and Lynx still hasn’t shipped to all backers while Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro shipped in volume in the meantime.

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In a Kickstarter update post, CEO and founder Stan Larroque said that the last year has been “excruciating”. He claims his company’s inability to pay its manufacturer, Compal, resulted in produced headsets not being delivered, and says this situation resulted from intended investors not following through with their funding.

Here’s the full section of the post, featuring shocking claims:

“So far, we delivered the first backers with the first batches at the end of 2023 and we are looking forward to deliver 400 additional Lynx-R1 headsets between July and August.

The pace of production has been an absolute mess for the R1, and 100% of the constraints we had were related to financial issues.

These 400 headsets were part of our PVT batch (500 units). They were actually assembled between February and March, but our partner and assembler Compal retained these 400 headsets until we could settle a payment for some manpower. The situation was quite bad but finally we are able to settle this and the pallets will be on their way this week!

The last 12 months were excruciating. And nothing related to the headset itself.

We dedicated so much effort to raise money it’s ridiculous and a tragedy because there is nothing to show for it today from our last fundraising of May 2022. So much happened I can’t write everything down yet but here are two examples:

• We were supposed to close a 30M€ deal at the end of April, term sheet signed and everything. And it didn’t happened because the European investor didn’t really have the money and lied to us. This was almost a death sentence, it’s the worst thing that can happen to a startup.
• Another one is a French public fund lying to us in their will to commit to our company. They took more than 6 months to do a due diligence, we spent hundreds of hours on the case with them (they were supposed to commit 15M€). They issued a LOI in July 2023. All that to realize they were badmouthing about us behind our backs to other potential co-investors. A VC shared those emails with me and it depressed me so much.

This is the tip of the iceberg of what we had to face raising money 1) in XR, 2) in hardware, 3) in Europe. These situations, alongside the impact on the R1, are the most frustrating experiences of my professional life.

You know this situation when you have done your homework but you get an F because the teacher doesn’t like your face or some other random reason that you have no control over? That’s it, for a good year.

Ok, now that the frustration is out, I can share also better news. We are working with a big financial US partner to continue our work. It’s too early to share more, but the motivation is still there because:

We have a good product, and a great roadmap. I believe we are still doing the right things.

The partners we talk with are US-based and actually understand XR and why it’s important to have a company such as Lynx in the landscape

We still have a huge demand even for the R1 (10k+ purchase orders mainly for Defence, Industrial and Medical use-cases)

It’s interesting to be the only OEM in Europe to build standalone headsets. We are a very small company, but we see a lot and we often know where to look even before the big ones (see for our example our investment in Hypervision). I’m still very optimistic about Lynx and what’s ahead for us. The XR ecosystem is consolidating, so the big ones are buying (or killing, trust me they tried) the small ones, and we are still standing in this wave.”

Even if Larroque’s new timeline is accurate, Lynx still has a long way to go to satisfy its customers. By the end of August, only 500 of over 1000 Kickstarter backers and over 10,000 total orders should be satisfied.

The story of Lynx is a bitter reminder that for startups without the war-chest of big companies, mass producing XR headsets at scale is incredibly hard, and fraught with unpredictable issues along the path from impressive prototypes to shipping to customers.

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