Leap Motion CEO on expected Asia business expansion


At the Global Mobile Internet Conference 2014 in Beijing this week, we had a chance to speak with Leap Motion co-founder & CEO Michael Buckwald. As many of our readers are likely aware, Leap Motion is a gesture-based motion controller that lets users interact with a computer by making gestures in a given space over the Leap Motion sensor. Since its launch back in 2011, the company has raised a total of $44 million over several rounds. Companies here in Japan like Kadinche and Cinemacraft have already been working on new ways to use Leap Motion.

Buckwald tells us that while about 50% of all their product orders come from the US, they also see many pre-orders from Japan, China, and South Korea. One of the biggest reason he attended GMIC is to build a reliable distribution channel in China.

We’re making a different market approach in every single country. In Japan, we have partnered with companies like Softbank and Yodobashi Camera, and are expecting them to facilitate distribution channels to reach out our potential users better. In Korea, we have several partners but are conducting a [more] direct approach than what we are doing in the Japanese market. In China, we have no formal partnership with any company for now, but we think it’s significant for us to find a way to expose our actual product.

In order to encourage third-party developers to create Leap Motion apps using the company’s SDK, Leap Motion has set up an app market called AirSpace where the developers can publish their apps. Buckwald tells us the market has about 200 apps for now, and about 50% of them are paid, with many gaming apps ranked among the top downloads.

We understand that the company has launched an incubation program called LEAP.AXLR8R in San Francisco (of course, in partnership with Shenzhen-based HAXLR8R), where several startups are committed to developing Leap-integrated apps. The first class from the program will be graduating in just a few months. A number of unofficial meetups are being organized by the company and its developer communities in cities in the world. Buckwald expects such efforts will really help establish user/developer ecosystem based around their device.